Paving a path to success

A partnership between Mai-Wel LabourForce Solutions and Catholic schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is helping students with disabilities pave a career path.

For the past ten years, a successful initiative between Mai-Wel LabourForce Solutions (Mai-Wel) and the Catholic Schools Office (CSO) has been helping students with a disability who are about to leave high school find an employment path that is right for them.

The initiative was inspired by the then Principal of Holy Spirit Primary School, Kurri Kurri, Roger Whitney, who approached Mai-Wel about providing employment to a young person with a disability who was volunteering at the school.

Following the successful employment of the volunteer at the school, Mai-Wel approached the CSO to propose an ongoing partnership to help former Catholic school students with disabilities and/or those experiencing disadvantage by placing them in Catholic schools throughout the diocese to complete traineeships and gain qualifications.

One of the trailblazers of the initiative was Jarrod Lantry, a former student of St Joseph’s College, Lochinvar. Jarrod has an intellectual disability and was approaching the end of his education journey when he obtained a grounds maintenance traineeship at St Joseph’s through the initiative. Upon completing the traineeship, Jarrod was successful in securing permanent employment at the College as a member of the grounds staff, where he still works today.

Every traineeship is designed around the needs and capabilities of the student and consists of 15 hours a week over a two-year period, helping students who face challenging circumstances to reach their full potential. At the end of the traineeship, Mai-Well assists students in securing a place of employment to enable them to continue on their career pathway.

One of the biggest issues faced by young people trying to break into the workforce is a lack of experience in real work environments to gain skills which they can transfer to a range of different occupations. This initiative helps those who face a few extra hurdles to gain that experience and achieve their employment and personal goals.

Not only do the trainees improve their vocational skills, they also gain increased confidence and a sense of self-worth, helping them see how they can be a part of, and make a difference in, their communities. The traineeship also gives them the opportunity to develop their social and workplace communication skills and learn how to increase their personal effectiveness.

Mai-Wel staff provide support to trainees both on and off site during this two-year period, to ensure that they develop the necessary skills and work ethic to succeed. Over the course of the training, support and assistance is gradually withdrawn as the trainee’s competence increases. Mai-Wel also supports the CSO in providing access to the Disabled Australian Apprenticeship Wage Scheme, helping to offset wage costs.

Not only does the initiative give students a helping hand, the schools involved also benefit from gaining a fully trained additional staff member.

“This initiative helps to provide self-esteem building opportunities for young people progressing through the Catholic education system,” said Industry Engagement and Strategic Partnerships Facilitator at Mai-Wel, Tracy Forbes.

“The CSO traineeship arrangements and partnership provide a great opportunity to give these young people that first step on a career path and we will continue to work with the CSO, host schools and trainees to ensure the continued success of this initiative.”

Other successful students from the initiative include Emma Chapple who completed training in administration and found a permanent place of employment where she still works today.

Another major participating school in the initiative has been St Patrick’s Primary School, Lochinvar. A former student completed a traineeship in December and the school is looking to engage another student in the near future.

To date, the initiative has been able to assist 12 students in furthering their careers, with a majority of the completed traineeships based in grounds work or administration.

“It’s an outstanding initiative and it’s been a fabulous journey,” said Assistant Director for Secondary School Projects, Gerard Mowbray.

“It’s about creating a pathway for students who have some employment challenges. I think it creates quality outcomes for them and quality outcomes for our schools; the schools benefit by having an experienced pair of hands they wouldn’t normally have had.”

Mai-Wel LabourForce Solutions is a specialist employment service based in Maitland, Cessnock and Dungog that assists people with a disability to find and keep a job. Offering ‘end to end’ recruitment solutions, it provides training and support in a variety of areas relating to personal and professional development with a commitment to helping people reach their full potential. For more information, please P 4015 8400 or email.


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