GeekAbility uses technology and a focus on greater digital literacy to improve digital inclusion and demonstrate that people with disabilities have skills they can contribute to civil society. GeekAbility will seek to find placements for students to gain meaningful work experience that will give them a sense of purpose and improve their prospects for paid employment.
By working closely with corporate partners, GeekAbility will identify which skills are in demand and build an individual training plan around each student’s strengths and ambitions to prepare them for the workforce and give them the social skills and confidence to integrate into teams in the workplace.
GeekAbility will also provide support to employers to do get their workplaces disability-ready through audits and funded modifications to allow young people with a range of disabilities to work for them. Trainees and their families who can’t afford or don’t have access to the technology or connectivity they need to learn or access the internet will be assisted to acquire what they need to remove those barriers to learning and independent living.
If they have the skills or desire to do so, trainees will rotate across these pathways to help them to get a diverse range of experience and find a vocation they’re interested in.
All students and trainees will start with an accredited foundation skills course that will give them the ability to study at their own pace and complete modules that suit their skills levels and interests.
Although the program is primarily aimed at school-leavers with access to the NDIS’s SLES (School Leavers Employment Support) funding (up to 2 years after finishing school), we will also be enrolling older trainees who are eligible for the NDIS’s Finding & Keeping a Job category.
According to the Australian Digital Inclusion Index, more than 1 million people with disabilities in Australia do not have access to the internet, and over 85% of people with disabilities never find work in their lifetimes. This is a staggering statistic in a country with a population of only 24 million and where people with disabilities have much more support than in less-privileged countries.
Government agency Job Access has compelling evidence that people with disabilities are more productive, reliable and have lower recruitment costs and superior safety records than other workers.
GeekAbility provides solutions to employers to make their workplaces disability-ready and then gives them workers trained with the specific skills they need for their businesses.
Young people with disabilities will learn practical digital skills that will enable them to manage their daily lives more independently and increase the proportion that secure paid employment. This will build their confidence, give them a sense of purpose, relieve pressure on their families and carers, create more fulfilling and inclusive workplaces and reduce inequality.
The program will be delivered by trainers and support workers in GeekAbility learning centres and online, in the field through travel training and life skills, in workplaces through internships and mentoring and via accredited training with registered providers.
Most disability services have historically focussed on recreational activities and day care programs where clients are kept busy from 9am-3pm. GeekAbility will combine early intervention and the tailored use of technology to develop individual plans for all students that focus on incremental progress toward achieving their personal and professional goals.
Unlike general activity-based programs, GeekAbility will secure commercial work agreements that will set high expectations and deadlines that will need to be met by vocational teams supported by trainers. Processes will be broken down to component tasks that can be performed discreetly by student with high needs.
GeekAbility acknowledges that everyone is different and even though each student has an individual plan and goals, we can all learn from each other as we learn together. Young people with disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community and this is why we want to create employment opportunities for them that will give them authentic commercial experience that will show prospective employers what they’re capable of. GeekAbility will employ suitable graduates as trainers, support workers and corporate consultants to audit and educate workplaces how to become disability–ready.
The program is funded under the NDIS’s School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) and Finding and Keeping a Job.
To be eligible for SLES, students must meet the following criteria:
There is high demand for places at GeekAbility and availability is limited.
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