JobsABILITY on the national stage

JobsABILITY featured at the National Disability at Work Conference in Brisbane earlier this month with positive feedback from both open and supported employment providers.

The Tasmanian-based initiative focuses on regional collaboration between the business community and employment providers.

Its purpose is to help to keep disability employment front-of-mind for employers and the community, highlighting the benefits and incentives that employment providers can offer to businesses. It supports innovative recruitment programs that focus on employer interaction with jobseekers.

A key theme of the Disability at Work conference reflected the aims of JobsABILITY, centring on improving engagement with employers and the greater business community.

The Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, Jane Prentice MP, recognised the need for programs that focus on employer engagement with an emphasis on communicating the benefits of employing people with disability.

Another highlight from the conference was Prue Hawkins from Empire Barristers and Solicitors discussing her personal barriers to employment. A key message from Prue focused on shifting perceptions of disability in the wider community. By shifting these perceptions among employers and the community, barriers to employment are reduced.

Disability at Work highlighted future workforce implications and resulting opportunities of these changes. Steven Shephard from TwoPointZero emphasised the ageing workforce paradigm and the opportunity this presents for people with disability to enter the workforce. He suggested Australia faces major labour shortages in the future as 40 per cent of the workforce are scheduled for retirement over the next 10 years.

Currently, there is a mismatch in qualified workers and the types of jobs available. This paves the way for jobseekers to maximise their employment opportunities by developing skills in key growth areas such as social and health services, IT and hospitality.

JobsABILITY focuses on educating employers in these industries on the benefits of employing people with disability.

As the ageing workforce retires, there will be increased demand for personal services. This allows opportunities for innovative jobseekers to create microenterprises within this niche. Several research projects are underway in the area of self-employment, with jobseekers building micro enterprises in areas such as dog-minding, coffee delivery and photography.

With the conference looking to unleash the potential of people with disability; the primary take-away from the event was a focus on jobseekers’ strengths, interests and skills, and finding innovative ways to communicate these to employers and the greater community.