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Brisbane social enterprise empowers young people living with disability to thrive and break through

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA: Jigsaw, a social enterprise that trains and transitions people with disability into award wage employment, is celebrating one year of providing employment-focused opportunities to people living with disability across Brisbane.

In just one year, Jigsaw Brisbane has opened its doors to over 90 young people living with disability. Built on the vision that people with disability are fully included in the workforce, Jigsaw is excited to continue offering viable pathways to employment through training and mentoring.

From diversity and inclusion in the workforce to decreasing the unemployment rate, Jigsaw remains dedicated to equipping people with disability for employment success.

“People with disability are undervalued and underrepresented in the workforce. Jigsaw’s model has been designed to revolutionise the way people with disability receive job training and access mainstream employment.” Paul Brown, CEO and Co-founder of Jigsaw, said.

The statistics surrounding people with disability and employment, including neurodiverse individuals, remain troubling. Working-age people with disability (10%) are twice as likely as those without disability (4.6%) to be unemployed.

Australia recently ranked 21 out of 29 OECD countries for labour participation among those with a disability, falling behind the likes of New Zealand, Germany, Sweden and Portugal.

With the dialogue around disability and employment shifting, and some employees seeing the benefits of disability recruitment programs, Mr Brown is optimistic that people with disability will see higher employment rates and more positive job experiences in Australia. Mr Brown added, “Our goal is to have over 1,000 people through our trainee program and create 600 award wage jobs. Opening Jigsaw Brisbane in 2020 was a significant milestone towards achieving our goal and continuing this vision.”

Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development, Di Farmer, said small businesses like Jigsaw are at the heart and hubs of our local communities.

“Jigsaw is a vital player in the process of closing the gap between employment rates of people with and without disability,” Minister Farmer said.

“The Palaszczuk Government welcomes Jigsaw’s contribution over the last 12 months and for its role in Queensland’s growing social enterprise sector,

“As part of Queensland’s plan for economic recovery supporting the right employers, the right workers and all Queenslanders looking for work is so important for employment opportunities and keeping our community strong.

“The development of the state’s social enterprise sector has already provided positions, training and skilling for many Queenslanders facing barriers to entering the workforce.

“It will continue in this vital role, creating jobs for disadvantaged people and delivering much-needed services and products,” Ms Farmer said.

White Box Enterprises played a key part in bringing Jigsaw to Brisbane by unlocking underutilised space at the Mt Gravatt TAFE, providing Jigsaw with funding to engage a Business Development Manager and helping to arrange a low-interest loan to get operations off the ground.

White Box Enterprises CEO, Luke Terry, has long advocated for the significant social and economic benefits of employment-focused enterprises, describing Jigsaw as “one of Australia’s most innovative social enterprises.”

Mr Terry added, “We know that Work Integrated Social Enterprise is a powerful vehicle for creating meaningful jobs for those who need them most.”

Jigsaw Brisbane is proud to announce that so far 10 trainees have successfully transitioned into award wage employment within Jigsaw’s commercial document and data management business. They anticipate a further 10 will transition in 2021. Most importantly, the social enterprise has been able to contribute directly to lasting, positive change in the lives of all participants.

Trainees who once lacked confidence and experienced anxiety around work were able to develop their potential, make friendships, grow their confidence and secure mainstream employment.

Mr Brown comments, “It has been a fulfilling and exciting experience to see people with disability, who had some disappointing experiences in prior workplaces, thrive at Jigsaw.”

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