To examine successful programs for the employment of people with disability in the open labour market

United Kingdom
To examine successful programs for the employment of people with disability in the open labour market featured image

Redevelopment of Australia’s public policy in the area gainful and successful employment for people with disability, would be of benefit to Australia. The positive benefits of access to open and inclusive employment cannot be under estimated. Increasing the participation rate of working age Australians with disability by ten percentage points, which would close the participation gap between people with disability and people without disability by one third, would result in a cumulative $40 billion increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over ten years (2011, p. 17 & 22). 

Employment does not only provide an individual with monetary and personal fulfilment. Equally, employment impacts on individual socioeconomic outcomes—health, wellbeing, independence and autonomy—consequently reducing costs to the nation. As Matthew Desmond wrote in his frequently cited New York Times Magazine article “Dollars on the Margins” (2019),

A living wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever. It is a contraceptive, preventing teenage pregnancy. It prevents premature death. It shields children from neglect. 

This report outlines a number of leading practices—drawn from shared characteristics of the nine leading disability employment programs visited during my research. Specifically,

  • Attraction, retention and career progression;
  • Job preparation, internships and on-the-job training;
  • Innovation—creating new industries; 
  • Workplace adjustments; and 
  • People networks working to change the narrative.

These leading practices directly translate to my recommendations and conclusions that Australia must:

  • Adopt a holistic approach to the life cycle of employment
  • Develop employment pathways for people with disability: job preparation, internships and on-the-job training
  • Explore opportunities for innovation
  • Remove barriers through workplace adjustments
  • Change the narrative through the power of people networks

Keywords: employment pathways, disability, open labour market, inclusive workplace, workplace adjustment, gainful employment, successful employment, sustainable employment


Ebru Sumaktas

Ebru Sumaktas


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