Goal setting for 2024: access diverse talent by hiring people with disability

15 January 2024

A woman with a file in her hand is walking through a corridor.
Image description: a woman with a file in her hand is walking through a corridor.

As businesses plan their hiring strategy for the new year, the shortage of skilled workers is becoming increasingly evident. The 2023 Skills Priority List (SPL) released by Jobs and Skills Australia shows that 36 per cent of occupations assessed are in shortage.

The report featured the tight labour market conditions and trends creating shortages in skills, as employers face constrained levels of candidates suitable to fill job vacancies. This has created occupation shortages across the labour market. At the same time, the Australian workforce is aging and shrinking.

Technicians and trade workers, and professional occupations such as health, engineering, information communication technology (ICT) and science roles have the highest shortages, particularly in regional and remote areas.

The proportion of occupations in shortage has also grown year on year, from 31 per cent in 2022, up to 36 per cent in 2023. The Australian Financial Review discusses employers struggling to fill openings (paywall) amid near-record low levels of unemployment, stating that “the proportion of advertised vacancies that were filled by employers declined to 65 per cent in 2023, from 73 per cent in 2021.”

The solution: access an untapped talent pool and benefit from hiring a diverse workforce

People living with disability are currently experiencing an unemployment rate of 10.5 per cent, compared to 4.6 per cent for people without disability. Under-employment is 10.1 per cent for working aged people with disability, and 6.9 per cent for those without disability.

With only 53% of working age people with disability in the workforce, there is a large untapped talent pool you can hire this year, helping your business to overcome the current skills shortages and experience the many benefits of hiring a diverse workforce.

Employing people with disability brings a variety of benefits to the workplace. Some of these include:

  • Building a reliable workforce. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, improving employment outcomes for people with disability provides significant benefits to workplaces, the economy, the community and of course individuals themselves. Research has shown that workers with disability have higher rates of retention and fewer occupational health and safety incidents than those without disability.
  • Discovering untapped potential. By employing people with disability, businesses can access a diverse range of skills, talents and qualifications. For example, research by Harvard Business Review reveals that autistic people possess higher than average abilities in the recognition of patterns, memory and mathematics, all skills that are highly sought after in the tech space, and many other sectors.
  • Improving company culture and overall morale. An inclusive and diverse workplace help businesses attract and retain candidates from a diverse talent pool. A Deloitte University study on “The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion: The Millennial Influence” found that 83% of millennials are actively engaged at work when they feel the organisation fosters an inclusive culture, compared to just 60% being actively engaged if they believe the organisation they work for does not foster an inclusive culture.
  • Better supporting customers and the community. By having a workforce that represents the world we live in, whereby 1 in 6 people live with disability, businesses can attract, retain and provide enhanced services and solutions to their customer’s needs. Reflecting on the benefits of a company focused on inclusion and diversity, Kenny Singh, Cloud Solution Architect from Microsoft Australia says, “It becomes a tremendous source of innovation, and it becomes a tremendous source of fresh ideas.”

How to recruit candidates with disability

There are a variety of ways you can access a diverse talent pool and employ people with disability:

  1. Ensure your job ads are inclusive and invite people of all experiences to apply: A great starting point for businesses is to design accessible and disability-inclusive job advertisements to attract a diverse range of candidates, including people with disability. The JobAccess Employer Toolkit offers helpful tips to design and advertise inclusive job ads.
  2. Ensure an inclusive and accessible recruitment process: Some candidates with disability may need adjustments to participate in an interview. Employers should ensure that every stage of the recruitment process is inclusive and accessible for candidates with disability.
  3. Work with JobAccess to build your disability confidence and competence: JobAccess’ employer engagement service, i.e., the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC), works with large employers – who employ more than 100 people – to build their disability confidence through a free, expert and tailored 12-month partnership. The NDRC can work with you to develop workplace policies and practices to help attract, employ and retain people with disability.
  4. Reach more candidates through the free JobAccess vacancy service: The JobAccess vacancy service helps businesses — big and small — broadcast their vacancies to a network of Disability Employment Services (DES) providers, reaching thousands of people with disability with a broad range of interests, skills and experience who are looking to work.
  5. Connect with Disability Employment Services (DES) providers: There are Government-funded employment services providers in every area of Australia. DES providers can connect you with candidates with disability and also help in developing policies and practices that support hiring people with disability. Click here to find your local provider.

Remember, when in doubt, reach out to JobAccess for any support. We are the go-to expert for disability employment in Australia.

JobAccess services are designed to remove barriers to sustainable employment for people with disability. It is a free, one-stop national service that offers expert and confidential advice to employers and people with disability for all stages of recruitment and employment.

For more information and tailored support, contact JobAccess on 1800 464 800, submit an online enquiry or visit our website.

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