Quite often I come across people who have no idea what SLES (School Leaver Employment Supports) is, or have never even heard of it. Up until I started developing the SLES++ program, it was also something I knew little about. In a nutshell, SLES is an individualised program to help people with a disability transition from school to the workforce. This can be done using different techniques such as upskilling, coaching and training delivered in an individual or group environment.
While SLES can help prepare NDIS participants for mainstream employment, i.e: jobs that you’d find on Seek or any other job website, this type of employment doesn’t suit a lot of the people we work with for one reason or another. This is where Customised Employment and Micro-Enterprises come into play. Both involve a significant amount of ‘discovery’, that is interviews of a participant and those close to them, to get an idea of their strengths and interests so they can thrive in the workplace.
Customised employment involves using this information to work with a local employer to fill what I call a ‘labour void’ – valuable tasks that need to be done within the business but aren’t due to time and staffing level constraints. Micro-enterprises are similar, however instead of working with a local employer, we help participants find a service that is valuable to their community (which could include local businesses) and work with them through the process of setting up a small business.
Once a participant has found a role that they love doing, whether it’s mainstream, customised or micro-enterprise, we will then help them transition to ongoing supports once their SLES funding finishes, so they’re not left in the lurch not knowing what to do. This process is easier said than done, and can take up to 2 years from start to finish. Having said that, by the end of the process SLES participants have a great chance to be working in a career that leverages off their strengths and that they find quite fulfilling.
For more information about SLES, including how to get it, visit our SLES Information website sles.info.