Agency bridges gap for disabled workers
The Oamaru Mail, 19 October 2009
By Randall Johnston
Workbridge chief executive Grant Cleland was in Oamaru last week to promote equal employment rights for people living with a disability.
Workbridge is an employment and support agency for the disabled, boasting 28 branches and 140 staff nationwide, including an office above Work and Income New Zealand in Oamaru.
There are two employment consultants in the Oamaru Workbridge office - Diedrie Dalziel and Sandra Familton.
The Oamaru office has been operating for the last five years, helping people with disabilities get jobs and assisting those already in jobs to manage their disability in the workplace.
Mr Cleland's last stop was in Timaru and he has been busy travelling the country visiting the various regional offices.
"Because I myself grew up with a disability I have faced many of the same challenges throughout my life that some of our clients have," he explained.
One of his main goals as chief executive is to make employers realise that people with disabilities are just as productive and often do not require any special care in the workplace.
"In the instances that we have a candidate who does require support, there is funding employers can access to assist them with any additional costs the hiring of someone with a disability may incur," Mr Cleland said.
According to Workbridge's analysis, just 25 percent of people with a disability have additional requirements in the workplace.
Workbridge Oamaru has placed an impressive 150 people with disabilities in full or part-time employment since January this year.
"We have really good networks around town and work very closely with WINZ and Literacy North Otago," Mrs Familton said.
Workbridge Oamaru has successfully placed clients in a range of industries including banking and sports promotion roles.
Their services are by no means limited to those with physical disabilities.
"We also assist people affected by mental illness, so it doesn't have to be a visible disability," Mrs Dalziel said.