Supporting young people to thrive in the workforce
All across Northcott there’s young people using their abilities to smash those tiring disability stereotypes. Whether it’s learning new skills, making new friends, or seeking out new adventures, Northcott is proud to support young people to create the life they wish to live.
One of our most popular and successful programs is Vocational Skills, which gives customers the chance to gain the skills and knowledge they need to enter the workforce. To find out more about this program, we spoke to Northcott customer and Vocational Skills participant Greg Khatchigian.
When did you start Vocational Skills with Northcott?
I first got into Vocational Skills in mid 2017. I was going through my NDIS review and Northcott was on the list as one of the service providers. I came in with my mum and we had an interview with the coordinator Helen and she was really friendly and the staff were all really lovely. They encouraged me to get involved, meet new people and develop my skills so I can find a job. Before Vocational Skills I was doing a course at TAFE, but I decided that I wanted to go to Northcott and get support with finding work.
Why did you decide to go from TAFE to Northcott?
I was doing an IT course and I enjoyed it, but I felt like there were better things out there for me. I just felt like I’m more of a people person rather than someone who sits in front of a screen.
What’s a typical day at Vocational Skills like?
We come in at 9:30am and settle in – we have great facilities, including a kitchen if you want to bring food in for the day. It’s like a second home when you come here. Then the trainers guide us through the day and break us into groups. Sometimes we have combined groups and sometimes we break up and do separate activities and training programs. From the start of this year I’ve been in a group where we’ve been given a training kit that’s got all types of things broken down - from job interviews to how to approach an employer and hand in your resume.
What are the most important skills you have learnt through Vocational Skills?
Basic skills like time management, communication skills and social skills. For a lot of the young people in our group who have different disabilities, it’s very hard for them to communicate, so it’s great having this extra support with the trainers. We also get key workers that work with us directly one-on-one if we struggle with anything - so it’s really good having that extra support.
What are you getting from Vocational Skills that you didn’t get from TAFE?
I feel with Northcott you have that extra support that not many other educational institutions provide. When I was at TAFE I was feeling the challenges. I felt a bit excluded because I was falling behind and I felt like I was a bit slower than the rest of the group; it was very difficult. It made me feel pretty bad about my achievements and I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I feel that’s the struggle with young people with mental illness and disability. I think there’s a whole lack of awareness and understanding when it comes to how our educators are approaching that. There needs to be a bit more understanding out there and a better approach to young people with autism, and people on the spectrum.
I’m on the spectrum and proud. There’s a lot of people with these issues that have strengths that are forgotten about because more of the attention is on our disability rather than our ability.
What’s the next step for you after you finish Vocational Skills?
My goal is to get into a job were I can do permanent full time work. I’m interested in community services and these types of departments. That’s probably something I’d like to stick to at this stage.
Why would you like to work in community services?
Being a consumer with disability, I feel like I can use what I’ve grown up with and give back to the community and support our most vulnerable. It’s easier to relate to people in similar situations.
What would you say to those considering getting involved in Vocational Skills?
I totally encourage people to get involved - from whatever abilities they come from. For people that are struggling to find work, Vocational Skills is a place for everyone and a safe space for anyone to join and reach their goals. The NDIS is all about an individual’s goals and Northcott is definitely the place that has the right trainers and supportive staff. They make you feel like you’re at home - it’s a very homely environment.
Find out how Tony Petrin went from Northcott customer to Northcott staff member.
Read how Chloe Jordan found the support she needed to follow her passion.