Having a job is more than a paypacket for Jake Miller - it means confidence and new friends. In fact, it’s changing his life.
Jake is in his early twenties and has autism. He left Taieri College in 2016, wanting to work.
But being willing to work is not enough. One of the toughest things facing young people with disabilities is finding a job once school is over. In Jake’s case it was his employer who came looking.
Mark Taylor is General Manager of Tru-Bilt Industries. Tru-Bilt Industries is a designer, manufacturer and installer of world-class door, dock and safety systems.
Mark wanted to offer an opportunity to a young person with a disability. He had a recruitment agency approach IDEA Services in Dunedin to find the right person and Jake, who attends IDEA’s Switch youth service, was the successful candidate.
Jake says he likes it at Tru-Bilt. “I feel really happy and really great – and it gets me out of the house,” he says. “I like the people aswell. I like it all.”
Jake got the job on a contract subsidised by the Ministry of Social Development’s Mainstream Employment programme.
Mark says working for Tru-Bilt has been a steep learning curve for Jake, but also for the company in understanding his capabilities and knowing how best to support him.
On Mondays and Wednesdays Jake works in the manufacturing workshop where he might be lifting, sweeping or packaging. On Fridays his job is to clean the offices.
Having a willing team around Jake has made all the difference to him being able to complete tasks. One of his chief supporters is IDEA Services Support Worker Jade Bray, who has come up with visual prompts to help Jake know how many bolts need to go into a package, or which cleaning tasks need to be completed.
Danielle McConnell of recruitment agency Human Connections Group says if there’s an issue, Jade arrives at Tru-Bilt and can come up with an answer off the top of her head. “She is involved at every level. I am privileged to work with Jade, who can provide initiatives and strategies that I wouldn’t have thought of.”
Shayne Miller, Jake’s Mum, says he is more focused. “He has a purpose to get up and get organised in the mornings.”
Jake's growth in confidence is “one of the things that gives us a real buzz”, Mark says. “His Mum says his confidence levels have gone through the roof.”
Photo caption: Jake Miller (seventh from left) with his Tru-Bilt workmates in the manufacturing workshop.