For many people, finding employment is a long and daunting task. Endless job board searching, CV writing, and high-pressure interviews can become exhausting.
However, for 24-year Josh he had an extra hurdle to overcome during his job hunt. Josh has Asperger’s syndrome and unfortunately, due to false preconceived ideas about the condition and the stigma surrounding disability, many employers put Josh in the ‘too hard pile.’
Even though Josh was qualified, eager to work, hardworking and has the experience, he was being knocked back before he could even get his foot in the door.
Sadly, this is an issue facing many people with Asperger’s. Asperger’s syndrome is a condition that is part of the autism spectrum. People on the spectrum are extremely underrepresented in Australian workplaces, with only 40% of people on the autism spectrum employed, compared with 83% of people without disability.
This belief that people on the spectrum are unable to work, or are not a good fit for the workplace is completely unfounded. In fact, people with Asperger’s often demonstrate great attention to detail, high work standards, a strong work ethic and have a lower rate of absenteeism.
Josh is connected with Disability Employment Servicer provider EPIC Assist (EPIC) who has supported him every step of the employment journey. But unfortunately, if employers aren’t willing to take the first step to create inclusive and diverse workplaces, EPIC’s support can only go so far.
Employers need to reframe how they view conditions like Asperger’s to utilise the untapped potential and diversify their business.
Supportive workplaces are cleaning up the advantages
Robert, the Senior Laundry Supervisor at The Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort in Port Douglas recognised this potential in Josh.
The two first met four years ago when Josh undertook a twelve-week traineeship at the Sheraton in the laundry. Josh went on to get a job at another resort but unfortunately was made redundant from that position.
When Robert heard about Josh being unemployed, he got in contact with EPIC and did everything he could to get him back on board. Josh has now been working in the Sheraton Grand Mirage’s laundry for over 12 months.
Since his return, Josh has been thriving in his role and Robert could not be happier with his new employee.
“Josh is very good. He is very much a hands-on learner. By showing him how to do things, he learnt his tasks very quickly and easily and he has a very good capacity to maintain knowledge,” said Robert.
Not only has Robert noticed Josh quickly improving professionally but he has also noticed that having meaningful employment has impacted Josh personally in a positive way.
“When Josh came back, I did see a fairly dejected young man. Unfortunately, being out of work did put a lot of pressure on him. When he did come back, he was a quiet and withdrawn person. But now that he has been working with us for the last 12 months, he has reverted back to the boy I previously knew.”
Josh is loving being back at work. He has gained a routine, independence, and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
“Work helps me be independent and helps me understand and grow and be a better person. I am learning a lot here and making new friends,” said Josh.
“I really like working here. My team is really good. Rob is a good boss. They are all a very good team.”
Both Josh and Robert have benefited from the EPIC’s ongoing support. Employment Consultant Narelle and Employment Advisor Trudy regularly visit the workplace to ensure both parties are happy and working well together. If there are any minor issues, they help to find a solution that suits everyone.
“EPIC has helped me by being reliable and checking up on me and checking how I am doing and making sure I’m ok.”
Robert acknowledges that sadly many businesses have a stigma surrounding hiring people with disability.
“Unfortunately, I do believe there is a stigma about hiring someone with a disability. Some people tend to walk away from it and some people walk forward,” said Robert.
“I think it’s unfounded because I have had able-bodied people working in the laundry who can’t do as good of a job as Josh does.”
Robert’s advice for other businesses who are looking to hire someone with a disability was clear.
“There are people out there that serve different purposes and can do different work and suit different work. If you can find the person that can suit the job being able or disabled, the right person is what you look for.”
How EPIC helps
If you have never hired someone with a disability before, it can be hard to know where to start. EPIC can help you find job-ready employees who will bring valuable new perspectives and a competitive advantage to your business.
At EPIC we take the time to understand the businesses’ culture, values, challenges and the skills and talent you are looking for to ensure we match you for the right person.
EPIC’s ongoing support is what sets us apart from other providers.
Once your employee is on-the-job, we will check in regularly to see how they are progressing, and how you are doing too. If the employee needs hands-on support to do their job, we will work alongside them every shift until they no longer need our help.
If you are looking at becoming a more diverse workforce and find loyal and hardworking employees like Josh, contact EPIC Assist today.