School’s out for the day which means that Karen and Isabel Solis Hurtado have clocked on at their local McDonalds. The 16-year-old identical twins are studying English at Wintec after arriving in New Zealand as refugees six years ago.

In 2016, they got in touch with the New Zealand Red Cross Pathways to Employment team in Hamilton asking about employment and training opportunities. When a local McDonalds franchisee began working with Pathways to Employment to recruit new staff, the twins seemed like a great fit and were offered an interview.

A few months later and they’re at home behind the counter of the Frankton restaurant.

“They definitely add character, team spirit, and culture to the team,” says Santana Wass, the assistant restaurant manager. “The really bring a different vibe and diversity to the restaurant.”

Aspiring chef Isabel is the first to admit that she was incredibly shy before starting the job, but now says she has come out of her shell. She enjoys the work and it has increased her confidence, given her valuable customer service skills and helped improve her English.

“The people are friendly, sometimes I don’t know what to do but they’re very helpful,” she says.

The affection goes both ways, with the twins becoming an important part of the local team.

“We’ve had heaps of great feedback about how they’ve slotted into the team and everyone’s happy to have them on board,” Santana says.

How to help

Our Pathways to Employment teams work with a range of clients from refugee backgrounds who have a wide variety of skills. If you're an employer with an available position, you can contact your Pathways to Employment team here. You can read more success stories from the programme here