The disabled deserve work that suits their skills

Tue 20 February 2018

The Australian recently published an opinion article by John Pollaers, Chair of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee. The article shared the story of Mr Pollaers’ nephew Anthony and highlighted the under-representation of people with disability in the workforce.

Anthony has qualifications in web design, information technology, music production and business – all valuable skills that many organisations would benefit from. He dreams of a career in business management in the sports or entertainment industry, but at age 30 has never had a job. Anthony has a disability.

Mr Pollaers’ article goes on to describe how many employers and managers are open to employing people with disability but lack the confidence and knowledge about how to go about it.

“They are concerned about costs, knowing what to do, where to start and the resources required, or may already have resources dedicated to another diversity focus such as gender balance,” said Mr Pollaers.

“But, being more confident about employing people with disability can bring many benefits to business. Among other things a diverse workforce that reflects the make-up of the general population can lead to new ideas, a stronger and more inclusive workplace culture, and a better understanding of the diverse needs of customers and suppliers,” he said.

Mr Pollaers' article concluded by introducing a new initiative being led by the Australian Industry and Skills Committee to increase the skills and knowledge of both educators and employers so they know how to better include people with disability in work and training.

It is an approach that the Australian Network on Disability strongly agrees with and CEO, Suzanne Colbert AM took the opportunity to write a ‘Letter to the Editor’ to show her support.

As the letter didn’t appear in The Australian we’ve published it here.  

Letter to the Editor

The disabled deserve work that suits their skills

I was encouraged to read John Pollaers’ opinion article, ‘The disabled deserve work that suits their skills’. As founding CEO of the Australian Network on Disability (AND), a for-purpose organisation that works to enable large organisations to successfully recruit people with disability, I wholeheartedly agree with his approach.

Anthony Pollaers’ experience is all too common and it’s time to do it differently. 

Leading organisations have proven that when they are confident and equipped and there is alignment between the skills of jobseekers to suitable jobs, outstanding success can be achieved.

The NSW High Growth Jobs project started with employers and built their skills and confidence to employ people with disability and then worked backwards by preparing and matching jobseekers to identified jobs. Compass Group, one of eight participating employers, won the National Disability Employer of the Year Award in December 2017.

The economic model for the NDIS is predicated on increased employment for people with disability. However, employment participation is declining, according to the latest data. The continuing work of AND and The Australian Industry and Skills Committee in upskilling employers is vital if we are to achieve a cultural shift and realise the potential of people with disability as great employees.

Suzanne Colbert AM, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Network on Disability.

Read Mr. Pollaers’ opinion article The disabled deserve work that suits their skills. Note: this article may only be available to subscribers of The Australian.  

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