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Bruce Clark (employer of Gavin)

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Taking on secondary students with disability for an apprenticeship is a win, win for all.

Bruce Clark is the Production Manager for Global Manufacturing Group (GMG), a metal fabrication, machining, paint and powder coating company based in Maryborough, Queensland.  

GMG was approached by Ticket to Work’s Fraser Coast Network to take on Gavin Shields, a year 11 student with Asperger’s in a school-based apprenticeship.

Bruce explains “Gavin was interested in our field and no one was willing to consider taking him on. I thought it couldn’t hurt. It was pretty scary to start with when Don from Epic Assist brought Gavin in. I shook his hand and didn’t know what to expect, he’s a different lad but he has come out of his shell.  I started with a 3-month trial and he’s been here ever since. He’s one of the family now and he almost knows how to do my job! It turned out to be really good!”

Bruce recommends all businesses to provide opportunities to students with disability for a school-based apprenticeships and traineeships.  Bruce said, “I would recommend this is a heartbeat, I can’t take them all!”

During his apprenticeship, Gavin has experienced and learned a lot about the business, everything from laser work, to machine shop fabrication, to packing. Last year Gavin completed his apprenticeship and got his qualification.

Bruce said, “When Gavin finished grade 12, I wanted to keep him on so I offered him a casual position. It’s working out well and now we want to look at him going full time”.

“Gavin’s maturity and confidence has grown out-of-site. He comes to work and gets straight into it, and enjoys the work. He keeps coming and we keep paying him. Gavin now has his forklift ticket. He’s awesome, I could do with 6 of him to be honest!

“He definitely brightens up the place. The other guys took him on board and now he is part of the furniture. We can’t fault him, no issues at all, he’s been great.”

Since taking Gavin on, and with the help of staff from Epic Assist, GMG has taken on two more students with disability from within the Ticket to Work network for a traineeship, with the hope to offer them employment when they finish school. Bruce believes that it makes good business sense to keep good people on, once you have invested in them and they have invested in your company.

A highlight for Bruce is seeing Gavin evolve from a little kid into a young adult. From a shy boy to not so shy young man.