There was a story on Landline last weekend about SunPork and a new initiative that they have been running for about 18 months now.
The initiative is employing people with autism to work in their piggeries.
One of the things that stood out to me was how educated these people are, yet how often they had been overlooked for a job because of being on the autism spectrum.
It did not however, surprise me, as I know that I would likely have had a similar response at ‘first glance’ when interviewing them.
What an opportunity for them and the business.
The staff spoke about so many benefits of having these people employed and how much they had learned both personally and professionally from the process and the people, and also of how much the business had benefited.
SunPork have taken such a proactive approach to their employment process and method, focussing on people as well as – not ONLY – the paper.
How many more moulds are there to be broken?
I have no doubt that there are many more people we can unlock the potential of and who could tick so many boxes in our businesses; their careers; the employment economy; and, the strength of our communities and industries.
This specific case I know will not suit all businesses for a range of reasons, but the principles are what I’m talking about.
Another organisation that I think does a truly remarkable job that I’ve watched from afar for a few years now is BackTrack, founded in 2006 by Bernie Shakeshaft in the New England region.
BackTrack is designed to get at-risk kids (often referred by the police or juvenile justice system) back on track to learning, development and a career.
The values of BackTrack are, in my opinion, phenomenal.
Shakeshaft has three main KPI’s: ‘We have to keep the kids alive, keep them out of jail and chase their hopes and dreams’.
And the results seem to speak for themselves as to how effective the approach has been to date: ‘almost 90 per cent of more than 1000 participants have transitioned out of BackTrack into further training, education or stable employment’ (Company Director, August 2018).
I’ve often thought about this and how we might be able to better link our labour and people requirements in agriculture with those who are stuck in a bad cycle – whether they haven’t had access to education or just need a hand - for a relationship that could address so many elements.
We have had so many rapid, technology-driven changes in the labour market, but we mustn’t let that stop us from jumping on the front foot and developing these potentially highly synergistic relationships the old-fashioned way.
- Sources: Landline, ABC. Company Director Magazine, AICD, August 2018.