JobAccess launches an employer guide on career progression for people with disability

man behind a computer

Australian employers are recognising the potential of people with disability, with a focus on making recruitment and onboarding practices disability inclusive. However, in most cases, these efforts may not extend to training and career development opportunities.

To help employers navigate this topic, the Australian Government’s JobAccess service has launched a guide on good practice in building accessible and inclusive career progression opportunities for people with disability.

Harnessing untapped leadership potential

There are close to 2.1 million people with disability of working age in Australia. However, the unemployment rate for people with disability is more than double that of those without disability. This gap hasn’t shifted in over two decades.

Just over 50 per cent of employed people with disability are satisfied with their current job, compared to more than 60 per cent of those without disability. This dissatisfaction stems from the fact that only a few organisations have targeted career progression programs to support employees with disability.

Just over one in five of Global DEI companies have such programs that are inclusive of people with disability. Fewer still (14 per cent) reported having advancement and retention programs specifically designed for employees with disability.

JobAccess General Manager Daniel Valiente-Riedl says that when it comes to career advancement and leadership for employees with disability, Australian businesses are lagging behind.

“This eventually creates a vacuum in productivity and leadership, where employees can feel stalled in their careers, and employers may lose their best talent.”

Daniel adds, “It’s time for employers to improve their unconscious attitudes and beliefs and recognise that employees with disability also have aspirations and career goals”.

A key objective of the Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031 is to move the dial on the disability employment gap and increase the employment rate of people with disability.

The Guide to Career Progression for People with Disability provides practical suggestions to consider when creating or updating an organisation’s career development programs, using Australian and global research with examples of good practice. This guide can be adapted to support all employees who wish to progress their careers.

What is included in the guide

The guide provides practical information and suggestions across a variety of disability employment topics to enable and encourage accessible, inclusive career progression avenues for people with disability.

Key sections include:

  1. Suggestions for providing dignified access that enables people with disability to participate equitably without any barriers. There is also the Government-funded financial assistance through the Employment Assistance Fund that is available to  support businesses of all sizes.
  2. Tips to ensure employees’ privacy whilst encouraging employees to be open about disability, if needed. When employees feel safe to discuss their disability with their employer, organisations can then better support them to start, remain and grow within the business.
  3. Practical ways to mitigate the effects of unconscious bias so that one’s background, attitudes, culture and personal experiences doesn’t result in the business missing out on the right talent or prevent employees from career development and progression.
  4. The power of an educated and diverse leadership who encourage inclusion in the workplace, as employees with disability are more likely to share information about their disability at work when leaders foster a culture of inclusivity
  5. Tips for managing the end-to-end internal recruitment process to ensure people with disability have equal access to development and career progression through each stage of the recruitment process
  6. A practical checklist of how to make it happen in the workplace.

JobAccess’ employer engagement team – the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC) – works alongside employers to improve their disability confidence, at no cost.

NDRC Manager Karla Fernee believes that building inclusion is key to ensure that no one is left behind.

“Creating formal groups such as disability employee networks (DENs) with a direct line to an executive sponsor can greatly benefit employees with disability.”

“These provide a valuable platform for sharing information, experiences, initiatives, stories and help build supportive relationships amongst employees. They can also improve vital organisational systems and processes to boost access and inclusion.”

Where to access the guide

The guide is available on the JobAccess website and can be accessed through this link: JobAccess Career Progression Resource Employer Guide.

When in doubt, employers and employees are welcome to contact JobAccess by calling 1800 464 800 to speak with our friendly and informative Advisers, or by visiting

JobAccess has a range of field experts, including allied health professionals, who offer tailored advice on workplace adjustments to employers and people with disability, from the first point of contact.

JobAccess can support employers and employees with the funding of workplace modifications, job redesign and more, to enable employees with disability to secure, flourish and grow in their role.

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