NDCO finds success for Todd
SUNSHINE Coast’s Todd Willcock, 22, believes the Surat Basin program was the stepping stone he needed to get him a head start in the workforce.
Todd, who was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, has been studying IT at the Sunshine Coast TAFE for 1.5 years.
It was during his time at TAFE that Todd became aware of an initiative facilitated by the National Disability Coordination Officer Program (NDCO), hosted by STEPS Group – the Surat Basin Work Placement Project. This Federal Government funded initiative aimed to introduce students to the resource sector and highlight to employers throughout the Surat Basin the benefits of employing students from TAFE and University with a disability.
“I heard about STEPS in high school, through the head of special education, but I didn’t get involved until I participated in the NDCO Surat Basin Work Placement project in October,” he says. “I loved every moment of it. I wanted to wake up in the very early morning to go to work because I loved the work.”
Through the National Disability Coordination Officer Program, Todd was able to gain meaningful work experience and make valuable contacts with his work experience employer, Dalby-based civil construction company Oswald Bros.
“The resource sector was sourcing qualified employees interstate and internationally due to demands and times of high workloads and I was interested to introduce these employers to the largest untapped market – students with disabilities who are currently engaged in tertiary and vocational education,” Debbie Rooskov, National Disability Coordination Officer with STEPS, says.
“The majority of participating students were near qualified, motivated and towards the end of their courses with possibilities to relocate for work purposes.” Thanks to his enthusiasm and aptitude during his work experience, Oswald Bros decided to offer Todd a more long-term opportunity in the IT department.
“I was impressed with how much information Todd took on board in the three days he was with us in IT, and his ability to take on board a number of tasks on his own with limited supervision,” Ostwald Bros IT supervisor Nicky Webster says. “I don’t think we would have come across Todd had it not been for the Surat Basin project and I was pleasantly surprised at how well he interacted with internal clients considering he is a student.”
Todd is close to completing his Certificate IV in Networking, and Oswald Bros is keen to consider more students like him in the future after being so impressed with his abilities and attitude towards the work he has been doing.
“I don’t think I would have got the opportunity without the NDCO program,” Todd says. “I am now working with STEPS to find employment.
“This experience has had a big impact on my life. I want to work and I see myself in a particular career, and it just shows it’s not a big scary world out there; there are some friendly people out there that will sit down and teach you.
“I’d tell anyone to give it a go too. Do go through the NDCO program and do the work experience if the opportunity arises again; if you do not you will miss out on a positive experienced like I had with Oswald Bros.