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Opening doors to positive change

WHEN Jillian Asquith opened her own recruitment consultancy two years ago, she did so with the conviction that the occupation she had chosen for herself was all about “opening up doors and giving other people their opportunities and their life changes”.

Two years, later Asquith Workforce Solutions is undergoing a rapid growth phase and while it specialises in labour hire solutions for metro and regional NSW, it is also one of the very agencies with a dedicated indigenous division.

Jillian, who is a proud Awabakal woman, said her indigenous division focuses on pre-employment and indigenous participation in the workforce.

“I am extremely proud of this work,” Jillian said. “There is no easy fix to the barriers keeping indigenous people from accessing viable work options.

“There are a number of government incentives and programmes to assist our youth and indigenous communities around pre-employment, soft skills and training. Certainly there is a lot more available now than when I first started in recruitment.

“I think one of the biggest battles in addressing this is educating people about and promoting these services and programs to make sure they have access to the assistance that is needed.

“But there are also larger issues at play which also need to be considered. This includes awareness of and sensitivity to cultural differences and a need to understand and respect these differences. We promote cultural awareness training for our clientele.

“A bigger issue is access to education to ensure youth have the most basic literacy needed for most entry level positions. This is currently lacking in some areas for some youth.”

Jillian said other significant barriers to employment for Australia’s youth and indigenous jobseekers included:

· Racist stereotyping with its inherent myths and misconceptions

· Low self-esteem

· Lack of stable housing

· Inadequate child care

· Inadequate access to transport

“Many years ago I did a disadvantaged youth program around pre-employment and soft skills,” Jillian said. “We basically looked how to start searching for a job and how to gain the skills needed to be employable.

“Many of the kids participating in the program were not fed before they attended, many were wearing ripped clothing, there was no access to transport and many had little support at home.

“Out of a starting class of 16 kids, we only had five by the end of it due to family pressures, low self-esteem and other barriers.

“These issues need to be addressed before we can realistically hope to ensure fair and equal access for youth and the indigenous community to social and educational supports which support their access to employment.”

Asquith Workforce Solutions is based in Greenhills in the NSW district of East Maitland and services clients and candidates throughout the NSW metro and regional locations. The company will open an office in Redfern in 2018 and plans to expand into Queensland during 2019.

“I love what I do for work,” Jillian said. “For me, it’s not about the money or commission I have made over the years. The work we do as recruitment consultants assists in changing people’s lives. What could be more rewarding then that?”

Jillian said she has been able to learn many lessons in her 15 years in the recruitment sector, not least of all is the importance of making sure you have the right support and the internal drive to succeed.

“I had this dream I would create this organisation that would be able to not only provide me and my family with opportunities, but also other people opportunities. That has been the key for me,” she said.

“It’s important to follow through with your dreams; there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and there are always other options. So if you can’t find one way, there will be another way that you can go.

“Reach out to the right professionals. If there is a roadblock, try to find someone you can connect with to try and find a clearer path.”

In other words, Jillian’s advice is that if you can’t find which is the right door for you, ask a recruiter and they can guide you on your journey – after all, they have managed to learn what works and what doesn’t.

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