High Growth Jobs, Talented Candidates (announcement)

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Social Ventures Australia




High Growth Jobs, Talented Candidates brings employers and the NSW Minister for Disability together to discuss improving employment for people with disability

Employers from across the private and nonprofit sectors came together for the first time to discuss why they've committed to work with the Australian Network on Disability (AND) and Social Ventures Australia (SVA) on a new NSW Government initiative, High Growth Jobs, Talented Candidates (HGJTC).

The employers, which included Compass Group, Fujitsu, Uniting and Life Without Barriers, met with Minister John Ajaka, NSW Minister for Disability, at a round table discussion on 14 March. 

Suzanne Colbert, CEO of AND said, “Research shows that employers want to be equipped to build their disability confidence to hire, retain and promote people with disability within their own organisations. High Growth Jobs, Talented Candidates is designed to meet the needs of employers and build their disability confidence, while at the same time helping to better prepare candidates with disability for the jobs of the future. The project will focus equally on the needs of employers and candidates, ensuring an effective job match.”

HGJTC will work with selected employers across three growth industries, which have been identified through labour market research undertaken by SVA. SVA has been pioneering the demand-led employment approach in Australia through its Industry Employment Initiative aimed at disadvantaged young people, and is bringing this experience to the project.  It is also providing an evaluation of the project. AND will engage and equip employers within these identified industries, and work with disability employment and training providers to prepare and deliver high calibre, work-ready candidates at three skill levels:  graduate (brokered through AND's proven Stepping Into internship program); semi-skilled (partnering with high quality DES providers) and customised for people with intellectual disability.

Minister Ajaka said, "Young people with disability tell me the greatest moment in their lives is when they have to pay income tax, because they've got a job.  In my 30 years running a law firm, people with disability were the best employees, in fact they brought up the standard of others."

“For too long employing people with disability has been considered ‘too hard’," said Deputy Secretary Jim Longley.

The initiative coincides with the biggest and best change in a generation - the NDIS.

Executive Director of Uniting (formerly known as Uniting Care NSW/ACT), Peter Worland, said “HGJTC fits well with our transformative plans to give power back to the community and our clients.” 

Uniting has recently won a large contract to deliver local area coordinators to NDIS clients and the HGJTC project should ensure that people with disability are part of that workforce. 

"We want to be intentional about that and attract good people with disability to these and other jobs at Uniting," Mr Worland said.

Compass Group Australia Executive Director HR and Risk, Rosie McArdle said they hoped to build on the strong commitment they've made to ensure 10% of their Australian workforce are Indigenous.

"We've made some progress on employing people with disability outside NSW and this project gives us the opportunity to bring that to NSW." 

A number of Compass clients are members of AND and have a strong focus on improving employment of people with disability.

Lauren Murray from Life Without Barriers (LWB) said the initiative came at just the right time for them.

"In the lead up to the rollout of the NDIS we realised we needed to ensure that we, as employers, were part of improving economic participation for people with disability."

Employers and the Minister got the chance to hear directly from a recent graduate hire, James Armstrong, at the roundtable. James had participated in AND’s Stepping Into program which matches undergraduates with disability to employers, who offer paid internships.  James is one of 20 undergraduates who were selected for an internship with PwC in the last three years. Nicole Vongdara said PwC is committed to improving employment for people with disability, and this comes from the top with strong backing from their CEO.

CEO of SVA, Rob Kozkar, said “The High Growth Jobs, Talented Candidates employers are viewing people with disability as a talent pool who can address their employment needs.  They offer an example for others to follow.”

The HGJTC project aims to sign up a further four employers by May 2016 and equip all nine to ensure they can recruit and retain candidates with disability. It will use a demand-led approach working with employers to select and understand the roles in great depth, involve employers in the design and delivery of pre-employment training, provide a great job match and ensure employers and people with disability are supported to remain in the job and progress.  

AND CEO Suzanne Colbert said she was excited the NSW Government is investing in the project which provides the opportunity to show that people with disability have diverse skills and talents and can undertake a large range of roles, provided they can be matched to an inclusive employer via a skilled broker.  The project runs until June 2017.