The Count Report - No. 108

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Creating opportunities for untapped talent

A Count member’s solution to an expensive and space consuming paper challenge has created an opportunity for a remarkable employee.

Count Member, McKinley Plowman & Associates worked with the Autism Association of Western Australia’s AIM Employment program to employ 19-year-old Matt Bartels to handle the company’s move to electronic data storage.

Matt who has Aspergers, a form of autism characterised by difficulties with social interaction, has proven to be an invaluable member of the company’s team for over a year.

McKinley Plowman director Murray McKinley said despite being a highly productive team member and having a ‘virtually non-existent error rate’, people like Matt often struggled to find employment.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed 34 per cent of people diagnosed with autism were employed in 2009 compared to 83 per cent of the working population.

“Matt arrives at work early, leaves late and always remains focused on his task,” said Murray. “We’ve had to work hard at getting him into the habit of taking breaks and I am glad to say he is now doing this.

“Matt contributes so much to our team, yet people like him remain an untapped resource for our workforce. We are sharing our story in the hope that more opportunities will be created for people with autism.”

Autism Association of WA executive manager Russell Thomas said a general lack of awareness about autism meant many employers were missing out.

Russell said there was a broad spectrum of autism disorders and many people could be successfully employed providing their skills, individual ability and strengths were matched with the right position.

Matt, who was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome at four and a half, said the position at McKinley Plowman, which was his first job since completing his education, was “perfect for him.”

To find out how you can create employment opportunities for people with a disability within your business, visit the employer’s section of the Australian government website