Flagstaff transition to work program

Wollongong’s Ryota Schettino is learning new skills after obtaining employment at Wests Illawarra after school.

Mr Schettino is part of the Flagstaff Group’s Transition to Work Program. The program is designed and tailored for current or recent school leavers, creating a plan to identify and remove barriers to sustainable employment and eventually transition them into open employment in their chosen industries.

The program recognises the ever-changing nature of work can place significant pressures on young school leavers, including people with disabilities, to manage their own career paths and obtain full time employment.

For Mr Schettino obtaining employment after school and working in an organisation where he can acquire new skills through practical is a dream.  Ryota

With the help of the Flagstaff Group he began work experience at Wests Illawarra in 2016 by working one day a week at the Table and Spoon Restaurant.

He was employed to assist with housekeeping. His roles include cleaning, table setting, filling up salt and pepper shakers, making beverages such as coffees and milkshakes, and assisting in customer service.

Table and Spoon customer service employee Toni Robinson said when he started work experience he was very shy and didn’t say a lot.

But as he began to progress in his allocated tasks that changed.
“He started becoming more open and comfortable around staff members and his communication continued to improve immensely. One year on, Ryota is completely comfortable to chat with not only staff members but with customers too, and always provides excellent service. We love having Ryota in our food and beverage team. His positive impact, dedication and love of his role is inspiring”.

Wests Illawarra people and culture group executive Alisha Musker said the Aster Group was happy to support the Flagstaff Group’s Transition to Work Program because it offers young people the opportunity to build the skills and knowledge they need, and to meet their personal goals and aspirations.

“Our partnership with Flagstaff spans across different programs including the Transition to Work, Vocational Pathways, Supper Club and Project Leap Programs. All these programs have a common theme of meaningful inclusion and employment. Offering the work experience we do here at Wests Illawarra not only gives the employee so many new skills and an amazing feeling of accomplishment, but it also helps the other employees by bringing a diverse range of skills and abilities to the organisation. Due to Ryota’s hard work and determination, he was offered casual employment with us,” Ms Musker said.

Flagstaff Group chief executive Roy Rogers said the partnership with Wests Illawarra was significant because both organisations held the same common values and were keen to offer young adults the opportunity of employment.

“Our relationship with Wests Illawarra has grown and evolved, as our organisation’s work with common values and a focus of benefiting and improving how we give back to our community. Wests Illawarra has enabled us to get pilot programs off the ground and grow and evolve them into ongoing success stories, such as Ryota’s positive transition,” Mr Rogers said.

Flagstaff VOcational Pathways Program

With financial support from Wests Illawarra, Flagstaff took the FVP to 13 high schools in the region in 2015. It provides opportunities for students with disabilities
to have access to work experience and vocational training. The program equips students with a disability with skills and training ensuring they are job ready and
able to smoothly transition into employment.

Flagstaff aims to bridge the gap that was found for students with a disability who do not have the same opportunities and access to educational programs which increases their skill level in comparison to children at mainstream schools. Wests Illawarra is also one of the participating businesses that provide work experience for these students. During 2015 47 students completed the FVP, and 20 gained employment within the Flagstaff Group.

Flagstaff says: “This program not only impacts on the students, but indirectly benefits family and carers by alleviating pressure, the health system as employees report feeling less anxious and healthier, and offers a disposable income that they often spend within the community.”