Improving disability confidence “imperative” to address labour shortage

20 September 2022

Even in the face of a chronic skills shortage – and the recent landmark Jobs and Skills Summit – people living with disability may continue to be overlooked by employers.

Daniel Valiente-Riedl, General Manager of the Australian Government’s disability employment hub, JobAccess, said that while the summit did an important job of raising the issues facing Australian employers, it did highlight that people with disability continue to be ignored when it comes to hiring.

“For employers, improving disability confidence is imperative. Not only does it provide appropriate opportunities for people living with disability, employers have access to a larger pool of skilled candidates,” he said.

“The Summit brought to the fore challenges facing Australian employers, and the need for action to build a strong economy.

“But more than ever, the labour shortage has made it essential for businesses to be smart and innovative when recruiting new talent while up-skilling and retaining current employees.”

Valiente-Riedl attended the Disability Employment Roundtable in August with Minister for Social Services the Hon. Amanda Rishworth MP, peak body industry representatives, and people with lived experience to discuss solutions and recommend sustainable actions to improve employment outcomes for people with disability.

He also shared the wide range of support already available through JobAccess to help employers build their disability confidence and bridge the employment gap.

People with disability have the skills, but more action is needed

Australia is experiencing widespread demand for workers across key industries, including hospitality, sales, transport and construction.

The Summit brought together unions, employers, workers and the Government to address the shared challenges, especially with the busy Christmas period fast approaching.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in 2022, a third of Australian businesses were having difficulty finding suitable staff.

Yet ABS figures show only 54 per cent of people with disability were in the labour force compared to 84 per cent of those without disability.

Australian of the Year and tennis champion Dylan Alcott emphasised the benefits of hiring workers living with disability.

"It's just bloody good business because people with disability are 90 per cent more likely to be equal to or more productive than able-bodied people, we have higher retention rates, (and) lower absenteeism,” he said.

Helping to build disability confidence

JobAccess has helped thousands of Australian employers recruit people living with disability into the workforce with incredible success.

A recent partnership between JobAccess’ National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC) and The Perth Mint (WA) saw them improve their inclusion goals, resulting in the organisation hiring a person with disability who has made a significant contribution to its records team.

Kristen Potter, Group Manager of Organisational and Cultural Development, said: “This program has complemented our inclusion strategy vision to build a workplace which is inclusive and empowers everyone to be the very best they can.”

Meanwhile, working with the City of Stonnington (VIC), JobAccess helped to build disability confidence through the development of workplace policies and practices to help accommodate people with disability.

Emily Anderson, Talent Acquisition Lead at the City of Stonnington, said: “I definitely felt more confident in the process and our hiring managers have felt more confident too. Knowing what our process is, where can we go to for help, was really valuable.”

“The NDRC program encourages employers to think outside the box when it comes to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce. One size does not fit everyone, and that’s true for all of us when it comes to employment,” says NDRC Manager Karla Fernee.

Looking to become disability confident? Talk to us.

The National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC) provides tailored and dedicated support to help recruiters, HR leaders, line manages and C-suite executives become disability fit.

Contact JobAccess on 1800 464 800 to connect with the NDRC or submit an enquiry.

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