Following an early career in legal marketing in London, Ian moved to the Coffs Coast in 2012 and tenders for new business at disability employment service provider, Key Employment.
You’re from the UK; what’s your background?
I studied Business and Marketing at university and worked for a number of global law firms in London in Business Development and Project Management for seven years. I backpacked around Australia for six months in 2012 before settling in Coffs Harbour and have been at Key Employment for nearly two years.
What is your role at Key?
I’m Business Development Manager and am responsible for driving initiatives to improve the service we offer to our clients, local employers and the Mid North Coast community. There are a number of projects I’m working on to position Key appropriately for when the National Disability Insurance Scheme rolls out here. This will change how Disability Services operate nationally, and we are being proactive and hopefully ground-breaking in our approach. I’m building relationships with employers and community groups to increase awareness of the disability and employment services we offer and the amazing work we do. I look for funding opportunities to help us offer the great programmes we run and tender for new contracts.
Why should local business owners call Key Employment?
The Coffs Coast is a very competitive employment market, and our aim is to assist local businesses to improve their operations and staff management. The crux to a successful business usually centres on its workforce, and our involvement doesn’t stop at placing an individual in work. Through continued support to the employee and employer, we help to sustain long-term positions and ultimately progressive careers for our clients. Finding out what keeps the employer awake at night and helping them find solutions is where we see ourselves. We can take the pain of recruitment away from the employer and help them build a team they can be proud of. We’re excited to have just opened an office in Woolgoolga and invite local employers to visit Lisa and Kathy in Market Street to help them with their staffing needs.
What makes your business stand out above your competitors?
Key has 60 staff from Kempsey to Yamba, and each person has huge commitment to their role and in helping improving the lives of their clients. There is story after story of going the extra mile by our staff, and I think everyone is proud to wear the Key Employment logo on their shirt. Key is a family and everyone works together, learns from each other and drops everything to help a colleague out. Key are rated highly by our governing bodies, and the feedback we receive from clients, employers and auditors is phenomenal. Key are forward thinking and for over 20 years haven’t stood by waiting for change, but have prepared well for it.
What is the biggest success story of your time at Key?
The KAPOW (Kids and the Power of Work) programme started around the time I did, and in those two years we’ve seen around 120 young people graduate KAPOW with a Business Cert II qualification, life skills and other work-related licences to better prepare them for employment. KAPOW is targeted at disengaged youth
with disability, not thriving at school, and offers them an adult learning environment to build the skills they need for the world of work. We currently have 115 students enrolled over ten classes in Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Nambucca, Bellingen and Grafton, and I am formalising our work experience programme to go hand-in-hand with their studies to give them the best chance of walking into work at graduation. A very common remark from students is that they are changing their life through this course, which is rewarding to hear. I’d encourage employers to get on board with this initiative and take on one of our students to give them the opportunity to learn about working life, and we have already seen some early graduates of KAPOW commence trade apprenticeships as the first step towards successful careers.
What plans do you have for the rest of 2015?
I have a busy couple of months getting projects off the ground and seeing others to fruition before I go to the States on holiday in September. Coming in to the summer, I want to see results and improvements on some stats from the first half of the year. Key are sponsoring the Living Well Expo in August, the Coffs Running Festival Half Marathon in September (I’m training for that), hosting our third annual Golf Day for employers in November and proudly celebrating the International Day of People with Disability in December with our PARK Life community fun day. Then it will be back to London for a short winter Christmas break for me.
What do you enjoy most about living on the Coffs Coast?
Being English, the weather! There is a great sense of community here and for a relatively small place (coming from London) there is always something to do!