EDGE turns 25!
EDGE Employment Solutions celebrates 25 years in 2009. On reaching this milestone, it is timely to reflect on the achievements of EDGE during this time and the reasons for its success.
According to EDGE Managing Director, Sue Robertson, one of the keys to the success of EDGE has been the unwavering commitment by its staff and board members over the years to its purpose.
From the start, we had a vision to create opportunities for people with disabilities to be accepted into the workforce. Twenty five years on we remain passionately resolute in our commitment to this belief, said Sue.
When EDGE started in 1984, it was with four employeestoday that number is 72and the organisation helped to place 34 people into employment.
It was a fantastic start as we were breaking new ground. We are indebted to the City of Wanneroo and other businesses in the Wanneroo and Joondalup area that supported us in those early days, said Sue.
From the onset, the people at EDGE learned the importance of connecting with big business.
Our inaugural Chairman, Bill Mitchell from Allied Leasing, stressed the importance of connecting with big business if EDGE was to make a difference. With his support and encouragement, we were able to make this connection that has been so vital to our success, said Sue.
Seventy five per cent of organisations that provide employment opportunities to EDGEplaced workers are from big business and the public sector. Without underestimating the role that smaller businesses can play, Sue says that larger organisations tend to provide greater employment opportunities.
Big business and government bodies generally have HR and diversity policies and practices that encourage the employment of people with disabilities, and they usually provide greater opportunities for long-term, meaningful employment for the workers we place, said Sue.
The success of EDGE is not just about getting people a job, but ensuring that the relationship is enduring and rewarding for both parties.
Our focus is not to match jobs with people, but to match people with jobs, said Sue.
We look at the skills, abilities and aspirations of job-seekers and try to find the right job to suit each individual.
|Managing Director, Sue Robertson, believes one of the key reasons for the success of EDGE has been its employees. People who work at EDGE truly believe in providing opportunities for people with disabilities. Our people walk the talk, we only employ people on that basis.
The care we put into the quality of the match has resulted in a lower turnover of EDGE-placed workers compared to the general workforce, said Sue.
The success of EDGE in finding long-term employment for people with disabilities is also linked to the on-the-job support provided by EDGE staff.
Support is individualised; there is no one size fits all solution. This is important in helping people settle into their work roles and to understand the expectations of their employers and co-workers, said Sue.
Educating co-workers has been a contributing factor to placement success.
EDGE Job Coordinators educate co-workers in the workplace to help them understand disabilities and what it means for people to have a disability. In addition, we offer a one-day mentoring course for co-workers to equip them with skills to support people with disabilities.
The feedback we get from these courses is quite amazing, said Sue.
The course gives people an opportunity to mix with other co-workers of people with disabilities and are conducted in a really enriching atmosphere. A lot of participants tell us that the course has helped them to become a better co-worker and supervisor, not just to people with disabilities, but overall.
Although EDGE has achieved a great deal in its first 25 years, Sue Robertson is clear that more needs to be done.
The achievements of the past 25 years have been very satisfying and it has been encouraging how businesses are embracing people with disabilities as part of their workforce, said Sue.
Similarly, it is has been rewarding to see how people with disabilities have responded to the opportunity of becoming productive workers; they have powerfully demonstrated their capabilities and convinced their employers and co-workers of the contribution they can make.
Although the changes in the last 25 years have been dramatic, it is vital that we continue to promote people with disabilities as valuable and productive workers.
Id like to think EDGE can be so successful at doing this that the day will come when the need for specialist employment agencies for people with disabilities wont exist, but there is still much to do before then.