Skills training and work experience were integral to Blake’s recent success in securing a role as a factory hand in Wollongong, NSW.
The 18-year-old from nearby Warilla left school early after finding it hard to fit in with his peers. He experienced learning difficulties and acute shyness, both linked to his autism diagnosis.
Blake felt he was more of a hands-on person, but without formal qualifications or training he had few skills to offer employers and only vague notions about what he wanted to do in work and life.
However, after being matched with his DES Job Coach Julie from atWork Australia in late 2017, Blake has worked tenaciously towards improving his self-confidence and employability. He and Julie initially worked closely to identify his interests, which helped to inform a step-by-step plan to get the right job with the right employer.
As part of his plan, Blake took part in skills training and later in work experience to fully engage in a workplace environment. He also cold-called many employers to improve his confidence and knowledge of different industries.
Julie was with him every step of the way to connect him with employers and make his journey a positive and successful experience.
“Blake has shown initiative and through personal development he’s gained a real belief in himself,” she said.
After nearly two years out of work, Blake was offered a full-time job as a factory hand with a family-owned business Buckaroo Leather, that manufactures leather products, such as nail bags and belts, for trade workers.
Initially very excited and a little nervous, Blake has quickly become a reliable and important employee, always arriving with a smile on his face and a great work attitude, according to his employer.
“I now have money to do the things I want, and I feel part of a team which makes me feel important,” Blake said.