Hiko’s School Leavers Employment Support (SLES) Work Experience Success with Buster McGee & Frank Ford Travel Ballarat

Wise beyond his years, at just 17 Hiko Babin is already making a positive impression on all who meet him. Hiko recently played an influential part in helping local Ballarat small business Frank Ford Travel become a finalist in the Commerce Ballarat Business Excellence Awards.

Hiko connected with WDEA Works School Leavers Employment Support (a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) service) in October 2020. Hiko’s mum had reached out to WDEA Works to see if they could help Hiko take his next steps towards employment. Hiko experiences autism and is determined to not let anything stand in his way of success and achieving his employment goals.  

“When I met Hiko he was highly motivated to find work experience. He was volunteering at Daylesford’s St Vincent de Paul and had a passion for retail. Hiko is always well dressed and presented and one of the industries he wanted to try work in was high-end retail. We identified that Daylesford’s boutique fashion store, Buster McGee would be where Hiko would love to undertake work experience” said Hayley Finnerty, WDEA Works SLES Team Leader.   

Together Hiko and Hayley went into the store and met with Alex Hancocks the owner of Buster McGee. They explained what SLES was and that Hiko was looking to learn about the retail industry and gain some experience. Alex agreed to provide work experience, with Hiko going in one day per week. During the work experience period, Alex worked with Hayley and Hiko to provide feedback and help Hiko develop his employment skills and tools.  

“With Alex’s support and constructive feedback Hiko was able to learn and build his skills in both retail and customer service. The coaching from this has really helped Hiko take the next steps in looking for a career, it was also great that Alex has an extra set of hands to help during the Christmas period,” said Hayley.  

Following this placement, WDEA Works continued to support Hiko in looking for new place for work experience, helping him broaden his knowledge of employment opportunities. They identified other areas of interest and practiced with mock job interviews.  

Hiko decided to extend his volunteering to also include the Sebastopol St Vincent de Paul, here he quickly become a much-loved member of the team. Hiko’s passion for volunteering made such an impact on his fellow SLES participants that three of them have since commenced volunteering at this St Vincent de Paul also.  

 When an opportunity arose at Ballarat’s Frank Ford Travel, Ballarat WDEA Works SLES EPEC’s Brittany Kerr thought Hiko would be the perfect candidate straight away.  

Together with Hayley they arranged an interview between Hiko and Kylee Ellerton, Frank Ford Travel’s director.  

“We felt confident putting Hiko forward for this opportunity. He is a real gentleman, a good communicator and pleasure to be around; he lifts those around him up” said Brittany.  

On the day of his interview Hiko came prepared and wearing a full suit, he had some travel knowledge from his family’s travels (pre covid-19) and still carried the passion for customer service from his retail experience.  

Kylee was impressed and offered Hiko the work experience position on the spot.  

As a travel-based business Kylee had pivoted during the pandemic to continue to support Frank Ford Travel’s clients. Kylee’s innovation and determination was recognised, and it was recommended that she put forward an application for the ‘2021 Federation Business School Commerce Ballarat Business Excellence Awards’.  

Hiko helped Kylee gather and compile the information needed for the category of ‘Power FM Small Business Award’.  

Although out of his comfort zone, Hiko took on these tasks with enthusiasm and determination. The work of Hiko and Kylee has paid off with Frank Ford Travel recently announced as a finalist for this award.  

 Kylee has recognised Hiko’s assistance and included him in all media.  

“He is part of our team; we love working with Hiko. All our staff have welcomed him and made him feel at home, they have taken the time to show him ‘the ropes’ and got to know him. The team and Hiko have developed a great bond. I know how tough it can be to get those early opportunities in your career and to find someone to give you a go, I am so happy we could provide this for Hiko” she said.  

 Brittany is thrilled the work experience opportunity has worked out so well.  

“We’re so happy that the position has worked out so well for both Hiko and Kylee, they have such a great bond and relationship. A huge credit to Kylee, this has been a really tough time for her business and the industry, and she has gone out of her way to ensure Hiko is able to continue to build his skills and experience in customer service and administration.”  

 Hiko continues to undertake work experience with Frank Ford Travel and volunteer with St Vincent de Paul. At such a young age, he has already accrued a strong team of supporters who are keen to see him succeed.  

“We’re so proud of him, he’s always so positive – he want’s so badly to succeed and is prepared to try and do anything. He is so keen for employment and we’re so pleased that he’s found this opportunity. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for Hiko and Frank Ford Travel” concluded Brittany.  

Learn more about our School Leavers Employment Supports.

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