An employment initiative for teenagers with disability is training a whole generation of baristas, chefs, gardeners, photographers, and designers… to name a few!
Ticket to Work gives students with disability the work experience and training they need to land their dream job while they’re still at school.
What started as a pilot in 2011, now supports young people, mostly with intellectual disability, in 109 schools across the country.
Kids like golf lover Arnold, who did a retail traineeship in the pro shop at Melbourne’s Southern Golf Club.
Arnold worked two days a week to undertake a Certificate III in retail through a School-based Traineeship during his final year at Berendale School in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
And teenagers like cooking enthusiast Jayden who has a mild intellectual disability and Asperberger’s Syndrome so requires systems and structures to be in place to achieve his goals.
Jayden completed a School-based Apprenticeship and Traineeship (ASbAT) at the Point Restaurant in Melbourne’s Albert Park. Head chef Justin Wise was so impressed he offered the teenager a full apprenticeship.
“When I first started I was nervous, but then I started to feel more confident. In the beginning it would take me 2 hours to peel 20kgs of potatoes but now I’ve got it down to 25 minutes! I finished my ASBaT this year, so I’m going to start a pre-apprenticeship soon and see how I cope with the stress of working more hours,” Jayden said at the time.
Ticket to Work National Manager, Michelle Wakeford said young people with disability are more likely to drop out of school early and be locked out of employment.
Research also shows that young people with disability who leave school with a job are more likely to build a career after school because they understand what being a worker means and what work is.
“But kids with disability are just not getting the same opportunities for authentic work experiences as other teenagers – either it’s too hard or the school doesn’t have the resources or the expectation that employment is even an option for these kids just isn’t there,” Michelle said.
Ticket to Work builds local networks of supporters from schools, youth groups employment agencies, disability services and training providers to help students land work experience and school based traineeship in the career of their choice.
Students in Year 10 to 12 complete career development, work experience and a school based traineeship – giving them valuable experience and equally valuable vocational training qualifications.
Last year, 456 young people started work experience or preparing for work experience and 248 young people have begun an Australian School-based Apprenticeship or Traineeship through Ticket to Work.
Of those that finished their school based traineeship, most are still working after finishing school.
“It helped the kids learn at school that employment is possible, that jobs are there for them, and that they can do them,” Michelle said.
“Working is essential to independence, it’s important for social inclusion as well.”
Ticket to Work also supports employers to see just how rewarding setting students on a path to independence can be.
The students end up with real experience and training. Employers find themselves with energetic, enthusiastic young employees.
It’s a win for everyone!
One such employer was Bunnings – who made sure all their staff in its Mentone store in Melbourne underwent disability awareness training before ASbAT student Oliver started his Certificate II in retail in 2012.
Two years later Oliver had left school, was still employed by Bunnings and won and award for his Outstanding Customer Service.
“We also got lots of support from Ticket to Work partners so that we could ensure Oliver received all the assistance he needed at work. Because of this Oliver has grown to be a really valuable member of the team and we were thrilled when he agreed to continue working with us after finishing his ASbAT,” store manager Andrew said.