Not all doom and gloom: 2020 employment success stories

By Ron Maxwell - CEO

As 2020 draws to a close, many of us are reflecting on what a difficult year it has been. We have all been challenged personally and/or professionally, and it’s certainly a time no one will forget in a hurry. For many people living in regional areas, COVID-19 followed drought, bushfires and/or floods, so there has been no respite.

VERTO operates employment, apprenticeship and training services in many such communities across NSW, VIC and the ACT. At a time when much of the media focus is on the challenges ahead, I wanted to also highlight some of the good news stories that we are seeing.

Hiring a person with disability proves a win for Laing and Simmons

One of my favourite client stories of 2020 is that of Daniel Johnson, a young man with a disability who is gaining independence and confidence thanks to a new employment opportunity – and his own tenacity and drive.

Daniel is based in Gloucester, in the Hunter Region, an area that is facing some of the highest youth unemployment rates in the state. He really wanted to find a fulfilling job and his goal was to buy his first car.

VERTO’s Disability Employment Services team helped him successfully secure a marketing assistant position at Laing and Simmons Real Estate. The office is based in Taree, a one-hour commute from Daniel’s home, but this isn’t a problem for Daniel. He continues to show commitment and dedication to the role and a positive, can-do attitude that has impressed the team at Laing and Simmons.

Daniel now has his first car, and Laing and Simmons have an excellent employee, who is loyal, dedicated, and has a great attitude. You can read more of Daniel’s story here.

I really love this story because it highlights the win/win nature of employing a person with a disability. I’ve talked before about how some of the most vulnerable job seekers can be left behind in a tough employment market, and it’s stories like this that remind employers that giving someone a go can be a sensible commercial decision too.

The team at VERTO is always working hard to connect employers and people with disability and make long-term, sustainable matches, that benefit everyone involved. Whether you are a job seeker or an employer, it’s worth having a chat to the team to explore your opportunities.

An aged care career path changes life for young mum

Aged care is one of the industries that will continue to need qualified staff regardless of the economic downturn, and a career in this field can be an excellent opportunity for both school leavers and those looking for a new career. It’s well-suited to those who like working with and caring for people and are comfortable with the domestic, manual and personal hygiene care requirements.

It provided the perfect career opportunity for Bathurst-based young mum, Shannon Denmead. When Shannon came to VERTO, she was keen to get back to study, having left school prior to completing her HSC due to family responsibilities. VERTO’s Training Services team helped Shannon explore her options and she ultimately decided to complete a Certificate III in Individual Support (Aged Care).

Despite her extensive family duties being a parent to five young girls, Shannon committed to her studies, and was successful in securing work placement at Opal Care in Bathurst. Following a hugely successful placement, Opal Care offered Shannon a full-time role, thanks to her respectful, intelligent, kind and patient approach to caring for elderly residents.

Shannon is incredibly proud of herself – and so she should be. She’s found a new career that she loves despite some early setbacks. VERTO works with people from all different backgrounds, many of whom have faced significant challenges when it comes to study and employment, who may be unsure what’s next, so if you need some guidance, get in touch - we’re here for you.

Helping struggling youth turn things around

Youth are amongst the most heavily impacted by COVID-19 job losses, and this group already faced additional challenges when it comes to employment, particularly in regional communities. Apprenticeships and traineeships are fantastic employment mechanisms for young people, and in some cases, can be a lifeline – offering the chance to overcome barriers and challenges to build a career path.  

In 2020, VERTO teamed up with social enterprise, Backtrack Works to secure rural operations traineeships for six disadvantaged youth in their care. Alongside employment, the traineeships provided the opportunity for the youth to gain qualifications, practical skills and even give back to their local community.

The students will spend their time working in the fabrication shop - building gates, panels, ute trays and cattlegrids. They will also assist in building small homes for young people experiencing homelessness, and recently they helped mend fences for people impacted by the 2020 bushfires.

Playing a small part in these young people’s journeys has been incredibly rewarding for the VERTO Apprenticeship Team and it’s just one story of the power of employment. It really does change lives.

So, while there is no denying we’ve all faced challenges this year, there have also been many stories of people overcoming adversity or barriers to find employment. If you are a job seeker right now, it can be easy to feel disheartened in a tough job market, but I do encourage you to get in touch with VERTO on 1300 4 VERTO or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You never know, like the people in these stories, you just might find an unexpected new opportunity.