Christchurch born and raised Roald Phillips can’t remember a time when cars weren’t his thing.
“It’s just something I’ve always been into. I love how they work. I love how they’re put together and I love that each one is different.”
The upbeat 21-year-old lives at home with his mum Nadine, who has been a constant and much loved presence in his life. “I would describe my mum as lovely, caring and understanding”.
Roald went to his local primary school in the close-knit suburb of West Spreydon and then later to Catholic Cathedral College.
Despite his best efforts he always found concentrating on his studies – or “paperwork” as he terms it – a real challenge because of his impairment. However, Roald is completely in his element with anything and everything hands-on.
“I like to keep busy with practical jobs. Pulling car engines apart and putting them back together comes really naturally to me.”
CCS Disability Action entered Roald’s life when he was 16, as it became clear that he needed some extra support to get through his final years of school.
After completing high school the decision to move into some form of automotive training, with his sights firmly set on a paid job at the end of it, seemed an obvious choice.
Securing a meaningful job, that’s the right fit for an individual, is an important part of CCS Disability Action’s work in communities across New Zealand. It means finding a role that genuinely allows a person to flourish and shine.
Lisa Wall, Service Coordinator - Supported Employment and the dedicated transition and employment teams at the Christchurch branch of CCS Disability Action went into high gear to support Roald to find the right course of study, complete it and then find paid employment.
For people who are not good with “paperwork”, the qualifications they need to achieve their goals are often out of reach unless they get the right support. With the CCS Disability Action team on his side, Roald completed a three year certificate in Fabrication, Panel and Paint at the Canterbury Polytech Institute of Technology and followed this with a Certificate of Automotive Engineering at the Southern Institute of Technology.
His determination to complete this training was legendary. “We absolutely knew Roald had it in him to succeed. He simply needed some practical support and a bit of encouragement from us, to help him make it happen. We arranged things like a reader-writer for exams so he wasn’t disadvantaged by “paperwork”, we got him some technology that made it easier for him to complete his assignments and provided regular check-ins to ensure he was handling everything. The rest was all Roald,” explains Lisa.
But then, like many young people trying to secure their first job, he found it challenging to find an employer who was happy to take him on.
“The automotive industry is quite a tough industry to get into as there are more trained people than jobs. It had been a couple of months since I’d completed my study and I still didn’t have a job. It was hard.” he explains.
But he wasn’t prepared to give up. “What stood out about Roald was his enthusiasm and motivation to get a job. If it had a connection with cars Roald was prepared to give anything a go,” says Lisa.
Keen to do whatever it took to get that all important job, Roald attended a two-day Employment Skills Workshop run by the CCS Disability Action Christchurch office.
The workshop focussed on ensuring attendees put their best foot forward with potential employers and included CV tips, interview techniques and proactive ideas for getting a job.
With a freshly updated CV and cover letter he and Lisa hit the online vacancies and made several cold calls to businesses.
His efforts and attitude were rewarded when, as the result of one of the cold calls, Roald interviewed for and was offered a full-time job at Bridgestone Tyre Centre.
It was a hugely satisfying moment. “It was really great to get that first job. It’s great to feel like I can keep up with what my friends are doing and to go from having no money to having a good wage coming in.”
And now a couple of years down the track, he is going strong and is working as a tyre technician at a different branch of Bridgestone. “It can be very technical work, especially with the more modern vehicles which have detailed electrics and sensors.”
It’s also allowed Roald to begin to plan and dream about what his future might look like, both in the short and long term. Not surprisingly, cars feature in both.
Not content with his current ride, a new car is on the wish list. “I want something with a bigger engine, so I’m saving for a Subaru Legacy.” Further down the track he’d like to go out on his own and open a car dealership. “That’s the dream,” he says.
He and his mum have also begun saving to buy a house and he’s also looking ahead to settling down into family life of his own. “I’m still waiting for my plus-one - I would love to start a family one day.
With your support, disabled people like Roald have more opportunity to reach their goals, develop their skills and really shine.
Your support means we can help people find a job where they can shine.
"Securing a meaningful job, that’s the right fit for an individual, is an important part of CCS Disability Action’s work in communities across New Zealand."
"What stood out about Roald was his enthusiasm and motivation to get a job. If it had a connection with cars Roald was prepared to give anything a go."
"It was really great to get that first job. It’s great to feel like I can keep up with what my friends are doing and to go from having no money to having a good wage coming in."