There is one main lesson Neil Lloyd has learned from more than four decades’ work in employment services.
“You don’t win every race, but you can change people’s lives,” he says.
Since 1981, Neil has helped thousands of job seekers, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, in need of employment throughout Newcastle and the Hunter Region.
He worked for national not-for-profit Workskil Australia, based on Hunter Street, for the past four-and-a-half years as an engagement coordinator, before deciding to call time on a 42-year career this month.
“I started working with Centrelink and really enjoyed helping people,” he says.
“When the opportunity came to join Workskil Australia, I jumped at the chance and it’s something I’ve never regretted.
“Every day in employment services is different; each customer has a different story and I love working out how I can help them.”
Neil often bumps into former customers who have found employment.
He says one success story stands out.
“There was a lady about 10 years ago who had a lot of issues in so far as mental health,” he says.
“We got her back into work and assisted her to get further qualifications.
“She’d be in her mid-40s now and, to the best of my knowledge, she is still in that same job.
“I have bumped into her since and she does remember me.”
Neil says two of the biggest changes over the years have been the emergence of computers and BHP steelworks’ closure in 1999, which transformed the region’s job market.
“When I first started there was no computers, it was all done by hand and sheet,” he says.
“With the closure of BHP, there are now more skills and qualifications required to do things, but there are also different ways of finding people work.
“It was more labour intensive [work] but it’s now more high-tech skills compared to 20 or 30 years ago.
“Everything is on computers and people need those skills.”
Workskil Australia’s regional employment manager in the Hunter, Nigel Wilson, says the Newcastle team will miss Neil’s dedication.
“He has led by example, assisting some of our most disadvantaged customers from diverse backgrounds to achieve some amazing outcomes,” Mr Wilson says.
“We will definitely miss his humour and positive contributions to our team, and we wish him all the best in retirement.”