A group of six Syrian former refugees are moving into full-time employment with Silver Fern Farms, after completing a course in halal butchery.
The men’s achievement was celebrated at a ceremony hosted by the Ministry of Social Development on Monday, at which it was announced they had been offered work at the New Zealand multinational meat company.
The men, Sarmad Milhem, Ebraheem Alnatour, Mowafak Al Hussein, Nedal Ibrahim, Omar Al Naes, and Mahmoud Alnashmi, will start work this month.
MSD Southern regional commissioner Jason Tibble congratulated the men on completing the course, saying it was “one step on a continuous journey” for them and their families.
The refugee resettlement strategy had three key pillars – which were self sufficiency, social integration, and independence – and gaining work with Silver Fern Farms was an important move towards that, Mr Tibble said.
“We talk about about working together to find solutions for people, and this is a very good example of that,” he said.
MSD contracted Assure Quality to complete the introduction to halal slaughtering programme, which teaches workers butchery which adheres to Islamic law.
The new recruits will also complete practical components and will be further assessed by an industry trainer once they commenced work.
MSD Work and Income case manager Sam Al Slayem spoke of his experiences after coming to New Zealand from Jordan to study and himself becoming a halal slaughterman for three years.
“I started with no experience and Silver Fern Farms welcomed me and helped me through the process.
“I learned a lot and had a very good experience – so they are very close to my heart,” Mr Al Slayem said.
Red Cross Pathways to Employment manager Steve Phillips congratulated the men on their patience during a long journey and wished them and their families “all good luck”.
Silver Fern Farms HR co-ordinator Elizabeth Collins said training the men in halal butchery was “mutually beneficial” at a time when the meat industry was in need of halal-trained workers.
“The culture of Silver Fern Farms is a culture of inclusiveness – we welcome people from all walks of life and will have respect for you, your culture, and your boundaries,” Ms Collins said.
“Our job from here is to help you to move forward,” she said.