Whilst Aiden* (22) was completing both blocks of our Employability Skills Training (EST) program he learnt about the other employment, training and support programs available for young people at Youth Projects. One particularly program caught his attention – our youth-specialist Disability Employment Service.

Before Aiden had even finished his EST program, he’d already signed up for our disability employment service. Aiden was eager, and super keen to get into work.

To begin with, one of our youth-specialist coaches helped Aiden participate in Whitelion’s Y4Y program which provides young people aged 18-25 a better understanding of, and insights into, self-employment opportunities in the gig economy. Participating in this program actually helped improve Aiden’s confidence in negotiating and communicating with others too. 

After Aiden completed the Y4Y program - and having already tried his hand at a few gig economy jobs through Airtasker - he was still unsure about what type of work he wanted to do, or even could do based on his varied abilities.

Aiden worked intensively with his youth coach to explore his interests, his passions, what he enjoyed doing and the types of work that he felt would enable him to thrive. They settled on the community services sector after Aiden showed a keen interest in this space and felt that he had so much experience and passion he could contribute. 

That’s how Aiden started a Certificate IV in Community Services through our Community Services Traineeship Pilot Program.

Now working closely with two of our youth coaches, Aiden was able to drastically improve his interviewing techniques and communication skills whilst our team worked on finding an employer that could best match his strengths, behaviours and growth aspirations.

We were able to match Aiden with an employer who represents children and young people with a disability right across Australia. After smashing his interview, Aiden secured an administration position and was able to start the workplace component of his traineeship.

Being on the spectrum, Aiden experiences varied challenges with communication skills and requires extra support and guidance in the workplace.

Not too long after Aiden started his new job, we received a call from his Manager who suspected Aiden was having challenges settling in at work in the mornings. We got on the phone to Aiden and he let us know that he was finding it really hard to focus and switch into work mode at the start of each day, and felt overwhelmed as a result.   

His Manager expressed some honest concerns around their ability to provide the necessary one-on-one support to see Aiden better settle in, so our youth coaches went searching for solutions.

After discussing different strategies, our team came up with an immediate AND long-term solution. Our youth coaches developed a roster of our own team members (known to Aiden) who could meet him at work each morning and get him settled into work mode.  

Whilst that was happening, our youth coaches worked with Aiden’s Manager to apply for funding through the Australian Government’s 'Disabled Australian Apprentice Wage Support Program' (DAAWS) to help assist with Aiden’s needs in the workplace by funding a qualified support worker who specialises in people on the spectrum to help him settle and focus at the start of each day.

The employer successfully qualified to access the DAAWS funding and we were able to help them in securing a dedicated support worker on site at Aiden’s work, for up to 1-hour at the start of each work day.

The changes for Aiden, and his workplace, have since been enormous.

With the new, daily supports in place Aiden can start each day completely focussed, his performance has noticeably increased and is making good head way on his studies.

Aiden continues to receive ongoing, post-placement from our youth-specialist Disability Employment Services coaches to ensure his long-term success and is well supported in achieving his long-term goals.

Help us continue providing high impact support services for young people across Melbourne by donating to Youth Projects today.

*We've used a pseudonym name out of respect for keeping this young person's identity private.