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Workbridge, Where abilities equal employment

Workbridge - finding jobs for those with disability

River City Press (Whanganui) Vol. 29, No 11, April 4, 2013 (Community News)

 

'Workbridge' is the aptly named employment agency for people living with the effects of disabilities. Those disabilities can be physical, learning, sensory, mental or as a result of a disease, operation or injury >

It grew out of the Rehabilitation League for disabled returned service men but the Government opened it up in the 1990s with the sole focus as an employment agency, funded by the Ministry of Social Development >

There are 27 offices throughout the country, with the Wanganui office based in the old St Johns Post Office Building next to the Kingsgate Hotel in Victoria Avenue. It is part of the 'Western Team' which includes Manawatu, Taranaki and Wanganui >

The Wanganui office has a contract to find 120 vacancies for its clients in the 2012/13 July to June year and Keay Bishop, Manager Western Hub, told the RCP that they are ahead of target. Their clients range from people with mild to moderate disability and Workbridge has been able to place people in auditing jobs through to supermarket positions. Their skill is to be able to match a person to the desired job available >

Their service is completely free to the clients and to the employers and they have developed a good rapport and reputation with Wanganui businesses with many of the jobs coming from "word of mouth" recommendations. Frequently they are able to fill a vacancy before it was formally advertised. Although Keay did say that "60 per cent of our clients can and do get an advertised job vacancy." >

Another part of their role is to encourage employees to be "disability confident." This includes not only disabled employees but also premises which are accessible to all of their customers >

Keay pointed out that the disabled community spends $30 million a year and can't simply be ignored. Another statistic she gave the RCP is that "if 50 per cent of disabled people of working age were employed, they would contribute $10 million to the economy, without taking into account the savings in welfare benefits." >

For Keay and the three employment consultants in the Wanganui office, it is a satisfying job helping to give a degree of economic independence to people with disabilities >

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