Whitten’s Organic Oysters has been announced as the ETC Mid North Coast Employer of the Year for their work in 2021, giving vulnerable young people job security during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whitten’s is a family run business that grows and farms oysters from four main river systems in NSW, running depots from the Central Coast all the way up the Nambucca Heads.
Dean Whitten, who operates leases in the Port Macquarie/Hastings region, partnered with employment and training provider ETC to assist him in finding suitable staff.
This partnership has seen some keen young job seekers secure work from ETC’s Transition to Work (TtW) Program.
TtW is a youth job services program designed to support youth aged 15-24 in achieving their employment or education goals, while building confidence and life skills.
According to Mr Whitten, whose father opened the business 35+ years ago, oysters tended to be a young person’s game, which is why he works closely with ETC’s TtW Recruitment Advisor Peter Stephens to improve youth employment.
“It’s great working with ETC because they look at recruitment from both sides – as in the employer’s side and the young person’s side, to make sure the placement fits and everything runs smoothly,” Mr Whitten said.
After starting in the industry at a young age himself, Mr Whitten said that he’s worked with some inspiring mature workers who influenced the way he now leads his team.
“In particular, their work ethic and respect. I’ve learned that these can be a 2 way street and that I needed to lead by example..”
Whitten’s supplies oysters to many businesses on the East Coast, and delivers as far as Wollongong.
Spanning a vast distance, the popular oyster company is still very much a family run operation, with Mr Whitten’s brother looking after the Central Coast region (Brisbane Waters/Hawksbury River).
“Working with oysters outside can be challenging work, however Dean mentors his workers so they too can gain an appreciation and understanding of the oyster lifecycle, which in turn gives them a more holistic experience,” said Peter.
Mr Whitten also encourages his staff to gain additional experience where possible, and has supported ETC’s TtW participants with time off work to gain their Marine Boat and Forklift licences.
“Dean is a generous employer who has supported our young participants as they have entered employment, it’s great to see young people secure work with caring local employers,” explained Peter.
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