Hail specialists Bears Auto Group has been piloting a program to employ people with disabilities starting in their home ground in the Illawarra.
Bears Auto Group general manager Steve Lozenkovski reached out to disability services and support organisation, The Flagstaff Group to see if there was anything the business could do to provide employment and training opportunities for people with a disability.
A purpose-built detailing facility at the workshop in Montague St was identified as a great place to start.
“We worked with Flagstaff to write a program on how to detail motor vehicles and we have had about a dozen people come through,” said Lozenkovski.
He said that he notices how enthusiastic the new detailers were and remarked on their positive attitude and work ethic. Their enthusiasm was infectious and boosted morale within the workplace.
“Three days a week we have a candidate come in to do paid work and Flagstaff rotate those people around. It has gone so well it has become a permanent part of our business,” he said..
Flagstaff Group marketing specialist Belinda Franklin said Bears Auto Group was one of many businesses starting to see the benefits of a creating a more inclusive workforce.
“Employment integration is really important,” Franklin said.
“It means the guys at Flagstaff are getting experience working in main stream employment and not just at Flagstaff sites.
“This is like a pilot group. There is a training element to it and it leads to main stream employment.
“For example Troy who is working here today can now use the skills he has learned to work at dealerships and smash repairers in the area. We are really lucky to have Bears support in this initiative.”
Troy Fitzsimmons said he works at Bears one day a week and loves it because it could open up more opportunities in the industry or provide him an opportunity to start his own car detailing business.
“I am learning new skills. I jumped at this opportunity,” he said.
Lozenkovski is reaching out to the local repair community to see if more businesses will be involved with the program.