“It’s the ability to adapt that makes you survive.”
A life-changing accident hasn’t stopped Forrest’s career.
In 2015, Forrest had a skiing accident that left him a quadriplegic. The accident permanently changed Forrest’s life, yet the Canadian-born electrician was determined to return to the work he loved.
With a passion for renewable energies, Forrest pivoted his career by qualifying as a Solar Designer and Technical Sales Consultant. This gave Forrest the knowledge needed to establish his own Solar Design company in the Columbia Valley in 2017. However, demand for services in this emerging industry was slow.
A fresh start
With his Australian-born wife and children, Forrest made the decision to relocate to Sydney in September 2019. The 46 year-old started searching for jobs in Solar Design, with support from MatchWorks Disability Employment Services (DES) along the way.
“Solar will diminish our environmental impact on the planet so I’m passionate about convincing people about it’s incredible process,” Forrest said.
Once he found part-time casual work at a small residential solar company, Job Access funding was arranged to enable Forrest to successfully work from home.
“MatchWorks helped me get set up with an Adaptive desk and a wireless Bluetooth headset which was amazing,” Forrest said.
MatchWorks also helped Forrest access funding to complete an online accredited course through Global Sustainable Energy Solutions.
“I had completed the exact same course in North America, which was a Clean Energy Council certificate, but it wasn’t recognised here in Australia. So I qualified to design solar arrays in Australia,” Forrest said.
A new opportunity
Six months later, Forrest was approached by a leading solar and energy solutions company who offered him a permanent full-time role.
“I put in a resume there when I first came to Australia and didn’t hear anything. Six months after I started the casual job, they contacted me and said they had a role.
“I started as the Business Development Executive and have now moved into Client Solutions. I’m enjoying it; it’s very fulfilling and I’m living vicariously through the technicians out in the field.
“It’s faster moving and my days fly by now,” he said.
Accessing work tools for success
Job Access funding was once again coordinated by MatchWorks so Forrest had the tools for the job at the new company. Following a workplace assessment, an electric standing desk; headsets; a keyboard; wireless mouse; and mouse wrist rest were all provided.
MatchWorks is also assisting with additional modifications to make the workplace accessible. Soon, the office will have an automated door, a lift and kitchenette.
Finding the right balance
Forrest now balances his week by working two days from home and three in the office. He feels well supported and loves the social interaction on his office days. Even when workplace modifications were delayed due to changes in business ownership, Forrest remained positive and grateful.
“It’s been a long time coming, and the folks at MatchWorks have been amazing. They have been incredibly patient and very, very good to work with,” Forrest said.
“My CEO has also gone in to bat for me many times when the process of workplace modifications was delayed.
“Getting back to work may look challenging but it’s absolutely doable. Having support from my employer, MatchWorks and Job Access has made a big difference.”
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