Work experience provides an opportunity to trial work, build job-ready skills, find out more about a particular industry and assist in transitioning to full-time employment.
For some of our OC Connections participants, work experience also helps to integrate them into the community. Day support participants Jay, Artishna, Cal, Sarah and Mohammad take part in the OC Connections work experience activity, held each week at OC Connections Enterprises (OCCE).
Each Tuesday the group meet day support workers Graham and Oscar in Oakeigh South to undertake a half day of work at OCCE’s packing facility alongside full-time supported employees. The jobs they do range from folding labels; wrapping products in bubble wrap; folding boxes; sorting products; weighing containers; putting together nuts, bolts and washers; and packing chocolate.
The aim of the program is to develop the participants’ skills, build confidence, develop work-ready skills and develop a sense of belonging. Graham says all of the participants have gone through significant change since becoming involved. “During their time here they have matured, are showing initiative and their concentration levels have improved dramatically.” He says. “They can stay on-task and focused for a longer period of time, which transcends into other parts of their life.”
While there, Graham takes the cohort on a tour of the warehouse so they can see all the tasks being undertaken by the supported employees at OCCE. As they watch employees construct a Crayola display stand Graham asks Artishna and Jay if they could do that particular job. They both reply with a confident “yes”.
Their presence is also very welcome by the supported employees, who appreciate the chance to show the skills they have learnt at work and the responsibility they have been tasked with. Both groups have come to know one another well, expanding their social networks further.
When asked what she likes about the activity Sarah responds with, “it keeps me busy.”
Participants’ family members have also seen a difference in their development:
Mohammad wakes up every Tuesday eager to go to work and comes back home feeling proud of himself. This is a reflection of how my son is treated in the workplace and what he is learning.
Sarah is definitely more focused and independent since starting the program. As the work she is doing is routine, she is able to concentrate more on what she is doing instead of worrying about things changing all the time.
Jay looks forward to every Tuesday morning when he goes to OCCE. He is very excited to tell us what he has done and likes looking at the photos of himself at work.
Michelle (support worker)
Cal strides ahead of us into the work experience office on Tuesdays and is very cheery when we pick him up. His fine motor skills have improved and he appears more willing to solve problems.
Criss and John (parents)
Artishna enjoys going to OC Connections. She enjoys her cafe, work experience and certificate activities a lot.
With outcomes so positive for participants, the activity will be extended to a full day of work, providing further opportunities for the participants to grow and reach their goals.