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MIT’s special needs job search whizz wins award

MIT’s special needs job search whizz wins national award

As a passionate advocate for helping those with intellectual and learning disabilities find satisfying employment, Sue Willmore recently received the Placement Specialist of the Year award. Minister for Social Services Annette King presented the award to Sue at a special ceremony in Wellington.

Papakura resident Sue received the award for her work within the national Mainstream Programme, which is a service that matches individuals with meaningful work in government departments and agencies.

She is able to work within the programme through Poly-Emp, which is a not-for-profit employment agency with a difference. Established 13 years’ ago, Poly-Emp helps students with special learning needs find and succeed in full-time employment. They are referred to Poly-Emp for assistance after completing the Certificate in Work Skills programme at MIT and Unitec.

Through Poly-Emp, Sue meets with students to work out a career plan that suits their abilities and goals and then assists with job training, government subsidies, and all aspects of transition into paid work.

However, matching students with jobs is no mean feat as it involves contacting potential employers and matching their needs with aspiring employees. “Often jobs need to be created,” says Sue. “It is very rare that we would apply for a job that was advertised on the open employment market.”

Despite the challenges, Poly-Emp supports around 95 people in the greater Auckland region and has a job search list of 35 – and the list is growing all the time.

“Its very rewarding to get to know the students, match their skills with potential employers, and help everyone see that this can really work,” says Sue.

“I asked a group of former students recently if they enjoyed their work. Instead of putting one hand up, one girl put up both hands to show how much she really loves her job!”


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