When 20-year-old Josh Eager returned from yet another job interview unsuccessful and dejected, his father knew he needed to step in and help.
Scott Eager decided to take to his local community Facebook group in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire last month pleading for someone to give his son, who suffers from Asperger’s, a chance.
“It had been a real struggle, he’d been rejected from heaps of jobs for no reason. I just had to think outside the box,” Mr Eager told Yahoo News.
“I thought if I could personalise it, people would see him as a human being.
“I could list his interests, put up a photo of him and hopefully people would listen to me saying, ‘This is my boy, he needs your help’.”
In his emotional post, his father described Josh as a “hard-working boy” who is “reliant” and “honest”.
“”Hi all, I could use your help,” he began.
“Joshua is a loving and hard working boy who is 20-years-old and has high functioning Aspergers.”
While revealing he’s studying cooking at college, he said his son “just really wants to work”.
Mr Eager was taken aback by the overwhelming response from his local community, with hundreds getting in touch wishing his son all the best in his search while tagging prospective business owners.
One of the group members notified of the post was restaurateur Rocky Pitarelli.
He immediately offered Josh a trial front of house at his Gymea eateries Caruso’s, and La Zona Bar and Grill.
“It was brilliant that he did it. He gave him a trial after seeing there was a kid that needed a hand,” Mr Eager said.
‘I’ve never felt happier’
Mr Pitarelli told Yahoo News Josh’s disability did not faze him or his staff.
“He’s very good, he’s eager, willing to learn… He doesn’t make his disability an excuse,” he said.
While Josh’s proud father admitted his son’s autism left him nervous in new surroundings, his first shift was a resounding success.
“He rang me three times on the way home from the shift to tell me how good it was,” Mr Eager explained.
“It was about pride for him, not about the money. He’s got a job and everyone treats him as an equal.”
Mr Eager revealed it was his son’s work ethic that had endeared him to his new colleagues front of house at the restaurant.
“They love him, he’s keen and turns up an hour early, he’d turn up the day before he could,” Mr Eager joked.
TAFE student Josh told Yahoo News the smooth transition into his latest roll in employment was only made possible by Mr Pitarelli and his staff who had made a conscious effort to make him feel welcome.
“From the get-go, from the trial, there wasn’t any confusion, I’ve never felt happier in a job,” he said.
“I love it, I couldn’t be happier, the boss is amazing, the staff are amazing.”
More opportunities needed for disabled job seekers
Josh’s father believes thousands of other disabled people are in the same boat – willing to work but just not getting the opportunities.
“The positives far outweigh the negative to have a disabled worker – they never lie, they listen and are keen to work,” he said.
“I’m sick of hearing people don’t want jobs – there’s thousands like Josh who want to work.
“The unemployment rate is getting worse and worse and all these people with disabilities end up on the dole. They’re getting left behind and it’s getting frustrating.”
Mr Eager suggested the government needed to look deeper into the situation Josh and others find themselves in when it comes to landing work.
He suggested some companies are willing to take subsidies from the government for disabled workers, but are reluctant to keep them on longer once the funding ceases.
Josh also suggested many employers were uneducated when it came to finding out their staff had a disability.
“A lot of people with Asperger’s and autism find it very hard to keep work because as soon as you tell them, you suddenly run out of work,” he said.
Despite this, Josh reckons he is in it for the long haul and his father hopes other business owners take the lead of Mr Pitarelli.
“Give them a chance, give them a go, they’re not leaners they’re just good kids,” he said.
“They might not be a Ferrari but they’ll go forever. The restaurant gave Josh a trial, that’s all. He just needed a foot in the door to prove himself and he has.”
And Mr Pitarelli agreed, saying other business owners should take note.
“Give these kids a chance, they will surprise you. They need a little bit of tender guidance and a little bit of kindness, that’s all they need for them to shine,” he said.
Josh revealed he wanted to knuckle down and save up for a house, looking to move to the country in two or three years.