When Robbie was at high school, he developed an interest in IT. He’s a young man who enjoys a good laugh, but struggled to get involved with hobbies and social activities. He lives with Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair.

Robbie completed his last year of school in 2019 and began to think about a career. He met with an Employment Consultant from Job Prospects to start making a plan. His consultant Robyn soon realised that Robbie could really benefit from some extra encouragement and support. She organised for him to connect with another client who also has Cerebral Palsy and a degree in IT.

Robyn says having a peer has “encouraged Robbie to get out and about and do things independently which changed his outlook.” He began studying some IT topics at TAFE before COVID-19 interrupted his progress.

Robbie knows there’s a wide range of work in the field of IT and wanted to learn more about his options to develop his career plan. Robyn began searching for local businesses and enquiring as to whether they would be able to take on a young person for some work experience.

When Steve was sent Robbie’s resume, he was quick to take up the opportunity. Steve is a Technical Delivery Manager at NEC and oversees a number of infrastructure engineers who support government agencies. Between his team and a few others, they were able to give Robbie a first hand taste of day to day work in a large variety of work. He was there a few days a week for 4 weeks.

With Steve’s database team, he spent time installing software, and performing backup and restoration of data. With the biometrics team, he saw some facial recognition software and an interface that can predict a person’s age. With the security team he was able to learn about some of the challenges they’re facing and actions they would take in certain situations. With another team he was able to open up a server and go through the hardware.

“We were happy to provide a taste of different technologies with him,” Steve said.

“He’s a friendly young chap. On his last day here everyone came back into the office to see him and wish him well.”

The team at NEC hadn’t worked with a person with disability before. They said it challenged them with how they provide training and explanations. It made them start from scratch and work through the ideas and steps to give Robbie a good idea of what would be required in this type of workplace.

“I would most certainly recommend other companies do the same thing if they have the chance,” Steve said.

“It wasn’t just a good experience for Robbie, it was a great experience for us as well. We found it rewarding to be able to share some of our skills and experience with him.”

Robbie was really happy to have the experience.

“It opened my eyes to that side of the industry,” he said.

“The staff were a good group of friendly people. Always laughing and throwing banter across the room.”

Robyn checked in at his placement to make sure everything was going well. Robbie says “[Robyn’s] very helpful and resourceful. She does her job well and gives lots of helpful advice.”

Armed with his new insights, Robbie hopes to return to study when face-to-face learning can resume.