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Workbridge, Where abilities equal employment

Workbridge chief brings experience

Timaru Herald, 15 October 2009

By Fleur Cogle

 

WORKBRIDGE chief executive Grant Cleland brings experience - both personal and professional, to his new national role.

Mr Cleland has spina bifida and has used a wheelchair for mobility since he was eight years old.

After developing and running his own company, Creative Solutions, for 12 years, Mr Cleland moved into his Workbridge position several months ago.

Workbridge offers an employment service to people who have been living with the effects of an illness, injury or disability for more than six months.

Mr Cleland, who is based in Wellington, was in Timaru yesterday to meet staff.

He credited his experiences with disability for the development of some of his skills.

"I think it teaches you a lot of good skills. You have to have flexibility, have to be able to problem solve," Mr Cleland said.

Throughout his career Mr Cleland has worked with people who have physical, intellectual, sensory or multiple impairments, mental illness, the deaf community and those with long term injury or illness.

"Workbridge employed me on the basis of my skills. I want other employers to employ people on the same basis."

"I think it's important we realise having a disability is okay."

Mr Cleland said he would like more employers to create job opportunities for people with a disability, injury or illness.

"We need to work with employers and government to try to figure out ways to create more job opportunities. Some employers appear to be scared of employing disabled people. Ironically, Statistics New Zealand figures (2006) show that 75 per cent of disabled people do not require any extra equipment or other modifications or support to work."

Timaru's Workbridge office has been assisting more people since the recession started. About 120 people make use of Workbridge's services.

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