Diversity in the Hardware Sector

The Hardware Journal talks to Tony Maher from DPL Group in Drogheda, his employee Stephen Nolan, and Andrea Hermes from WALK PEER Ability about their successful experience in facilitating and supporting Stephen’s employment in the sector.

WALK PEER Ability supports young adults with special educational needs to help identify and facilitate opportunities for them in mainstream employment, Training and Education. They support young adults with Disabilities aged 15-29, who are in Special Education and help them to develop and transition into a career. Andrea Hermes has worked in Drogheda for the last eight years as part of this programme to support local students and businesses with their employment needs. Here’s a look at one such case study.

Tony Maher – DPL Group Drogheda

I have worked with Andrea Hermes for work experience before and the students that came to work were always eager, polite and hard workers. Stephen was keen and travelled from Swords twice a week to get here, he also built up a great relationship with his supervisor Dado and the customers and worked outside in all weathers without complaint.

I offered Stephen the Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS), which is specifically targeted at young jobseekers aged 18-24 years of age who are long-term unemployed or who face barriers to employment, and asked Andrea if she could arrange some funded courses to help progress Stephen into a career, which she did. When a job arose in March 2019 I offered the position to Stephen.

Andrea and WALK PEER Ability worked with me and Dado to ensure everything was right for Stephen. If I need any assistance, I can just call her and she comes to the site, besides dropping up monthly to ensure that everything is going smoothly for Stephen, myself and the team.

It’s brought a great awareness to me and the team on how beneficial it is having a young person come join us and with the right accommodations in place everyone feels as they are
involved in progressing a young adult who may struggle getting a career otherwise. Other staff members who are enjoying mentoring Stephen said it gives them a sense of worth too.

Stephen Nolan – Employee

I started with work experience while I was in my senior year at St Ita’s special school, Drogheda. Andrea asked me what I like to do, and after completing some work experience in Tesco’s and Gala Cleaners, I said I would like to work in a warehouse. In February 2018, I began work experience with DPL Group every Thursday and Friday. I was asked if I wanted to go on a scheme for Jobseekers for 12 months which I accepted. Whilst doing the scheme I completed my Forklift Licence Certificate and my Safe Pass Course. I was offered a full-time job with DPL on March 5th 2019 and now work in the warehouse with my supervisor Dado from whom I have learned a huge amount along with all the team at DPL. I love my job and if I need any help or advice I can just give Andrea a call and we sort it out with Tony and Dado.

Andrea Hermes: Career and Employment Facilitator WALK PEER Ability

My name is Andrea Hermes and as the Career and Employment Facilitator for WALK PEER Ability Programme, I have watched a shy student in his senior year in a “Special” school progress, with the right support, training, and most of all confidence building, become a wonderful, mature, fully motivated great worker.

Over the last three years I have worked with Stephen through all his work experience placements and courses, supporting him as I still do to this day although fading into the background more and more. My hope is he will ultimately no longer need me and with his manager, supervisor and the other staff my involvement is gradually reducing. This is the work of WALK PEER Ability to support the young person until he/she has made their transition into their job and are fully happy.

I am here for the concerns of any employer and participant, but for Stephen and DPL Group I am extremely happy and proud of Stephen’s progress.

Employers can contact WALK Peer Ability for assistance and advise on available employment support opportunities at 041 9832587 or at walkpeerprogramme@walk.ie.