Modified training assists Down syndrome employees
Modified delivery of traineeships for people with Down syndrome are an initiative being led by Down Syndrome WA to diversify workforces and provide clear career pathways.
The delivery can include evidence provided by video, audio and a modified written component.
WA’s biggest health fund HBF was the first company to hire a person with Down syndrome to undertake a traineeship using the modified delivery method through the Registered Training Organisation, Fremantle Education Centre.
CCIWA’s Apprenticeship Support Australia completed the training contract.
Andrew De Domahidy started his 18-month Certificate II in Customer Engagement traineeship in February.
“People with Down syndrome learn visually, kinaesthetically and by doing,” Executive Officer Down Syndrome WA Margaret Lawlor said.
“Having the certificate gives them the ability to earn and learn while on the job and earn and learn with an award wage.”
Lawlor said the association would work intensively with De Domahidy while he is on the job and provide training to staff at HBF.
“He is learning a lot of different skills. Engaging with internal customers has been challenging as Andrew has to learn a new set of rules and he is adjusting really well,” she says.
De Domahidy, 36, had already spent 15 years in the workforce where Lawlor said he was not earning award rates and did not have a transition plan.
“His role now is executive assistant. So he sets up the boardroom, takes people down in the lift, he’s on the reception, does the mail,” Lawlor said.
“A staff member from Down Syndrome WA is helping devise the role where he’s engaging the customer, using a computer, shredding. Very simple tasks are attached to this traineeship.”
Lawlor said there are benefits to both employer and employee because the traineeship cultivates diversity.
“The benefits for Andrew are firstly he has to learn new skill sets and communication, has to get to work on time, he’s interacting and is exposed to a lot of different people, he’s learning to dress well and the competencies are very simple,” she said.
“For HBF staff, they have never had someone with Down syndrome or an intellectual disability, so it can be challenging. We offer staff training and awareness of diversity in the workplace, giving people a go.”
De Domahidy works 15 hours per week over four days and is paid at award rates.
CCIWA’s Apprenticeship Support Australia business development advisor Michael Lange, who completed Andrew’s Training Contract to HBF, said De Domahidy had endeared himself to colleagues.
“They love Andrew and think he is great. A customer came in who was deaf and Andrew knew sign language and started communicating. They said he was a superhero for being able to do that,” he said.
ASA has assisted and signed up more than 3300 people with all types of disabilities for apprenticeships and traineeships including qualifications in automation, business skills, hospitality, retail, community services and engineering trade services.
Apprenticeship Support Australia is a free service that helps employers recruit, train and retrain apprentices and trainees. For more information visit Apprenticeship Support Australia.