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Workbridge, Where abilities equal employment

Bridging the gap

Southland Express Article, October 2007

By Hamish McNeilly

 

For hundreds of Southlanders who successfully achieved employment through Workbridge, they not only gained jobs but also a huge boost in confidence.

A not-for-profit organisation, Workbridge's employment consultants work with jobseekers with all types of impairments and injuries to match them with the right employer.

Receiving funds through the Ministry of Social Development, Workbridge does not charge for the service provided to jobseekers and employers.

For Invercargill woman Christine Curie the service has been invaluable and "I recommend it to everyone".

Previously Christine lived in Otautau, working in a variety of jobs such as cleaning, but after she moved to Invercargill she began to experience hearing problems.

"I had a bad experience with my ears and for three months I had difficulty hearing."

With her hearing temporarily plummeting to 10% of what it was, Christine said her sister "recommended me to go to Workbridge and I was keen to do something different".

While Workbridge usually accepts referrals from agencies, they also accept people making individual enquiries, like in the case of Christine.

Assigned an employment consultant, she discussed her job history, disability and possible employment options, "but I had no preconceived notion about what I wanted to do".

Workbridge employment consultant Stephen Day said a picture of the skills of the prospective jobseeker is then made and "we often suggest things out of left field that they may have never considered".

In Christine's case it was working as a reader/ writer for a young man who was studying at a tertiary institute.

"It was something I hadn't thought of doing, but I thought I will have a go at this."

The young man she helped has graduated and is now working in Christchurch and after her job finished she rang Workbridge and said "I would love the same sort of job next year".

Now she has another job as a reader/ writer working for the Southern Institute of Technology, assisting a young woman and "I love it".

"Seeing the boy I had last year being able to achieve things and the girl I have now doing well it has been a great feeling. The young lady has passed everything she has sat and I like seeing her achieve, because it makes me feel good.

"While the job was more mentally challenging than other previous jobs she had worked in, it was a good match for her skills, she said.

"They (Workbridge) took the time to look past what I had done and put me somewhere that suited me and now I recommend the service to everyone.

"She said the hardest part in the whole process was making the initial contact "because as a lot of people get older they lose confidence".

"Before I came here I thought my age was against me and now I want to work for as long as possible." Workbridge Southern Manager Bronwyn Powell said Christine's case was typical of the almost 200 Southlanders who had a disability or health issue whom Workbridge assisted to gain employment last year.

She said more people who think they could use their service should get in contact with Workbridge.

Operating since 1990, Bronwyn said Workbridge were increasingly getting calls from employers wanting workers and they were able to match would-be employees to the job and provide essential support.

"Because the labour market has been so buoyant a lot of people who have been unemployed have got work, but there are people out there with disabilities able to fill positions."

She said the benefits for someone with a disability getting a job, was huge for the individual. The community also benefits by reducing reliance on health and social services.

If you are jobseeker or an employer and would like to know more about Workbridge then please call in and see the team at 48 Kelvin Street, Invercargill, or call 0508 858 858.

Facts:

  • Workbridge is a free service to jobseekers and employers
  • jobseekers' employment consultants identify their job skills, training needs and develop a career goal action plan
  • they also help with job interviews and preparing a CV
  • Workbridge administer Support Funds on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development
  • the funding helps with the additional cost related to a person's disability when in work or training.
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