People meeting at desk with laptops

Ventia and social enterprise JobQuest recently celebrated a 12-year partnership that has provided hundreds of disadvantaged job seekers with valuable skills and secure employment in gardening and grounds maintenance.

As part of its contract with the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC), Ventia provides gardening and grounds maintenance at many of the 68,000 properties it manages across NSW on LAHC's behalf.

Over the past 12 years, Ventia has employed about 450 people through JobQuest and has spent $17 million with the social enterprise.

Ventia Operations Manager Jason Webster said JobQuest's expertise had helped us connect with a diverse, skilled workforce, meet our aim to provide job opportunities to marginalised people, and provided a quality service to our client.

Seeing the transition of these employees through training programs into full-time or part-time employment is definitely a highlight for our contract.

"Training is not just about the skills required to perform maintenance tasks, but also soft skills to enable people to have more fulfilled lives away from work and ultimately allowing them to be great contributors to our communities."

Providing meaningful employment for community members

Ventia Project Director Ian Ryles said the company prides itself on creating a workforce that is representative of our community.

"This contract has given us the opportunity to provide meaningful employment for members of our community, including disadvantaged youth," Ian said.

JobQuest Manager Ka Chan said the partnership with Ventia had been valuable for the organisation and its employees.

JobQuest appreciates the opportunity to work with Ventia, as Ventia takes its social licence seriously.

"It nurtures a culture that enables social enterprises to support and develop their target groups as productive and resilient members of the community."

Former JobQuest employee Mathew Kennedy started working full-time earlier this year with Cumberland Council in a grounds maintenance role.

'Working with JobQuest taught me how to use equipment, work as part of a team, complete daily paperwork and work to a schedule which enabled me to move into open employment," Mr Kennedy said.

Ventia team pictured with donation materials and branded vehicle

Pictured: Ventia's housing team with JobQuest (image taken prior to current COVID-19 restrictions)  

Engaging with social enterprises

Ventia engages around 135 small-to-medium-sized businesses and social enterprises like JobQuest through the LAHC contract, providing employment for more than 3,500 people.

JobQuest was established in 1987 to provide community services for disadvantaged people. They employ disadvantaged job seekers, such as long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, refugees with limited language skills, the homeless or at-risk youth.