By Tom McIlroy, Political reporter
Major firms including Westpac and Allianz have urged employers facing staff shortages to recruit applicants with a disability, backing in a push by the Albanese government on lifting barriers to meaningful work.
Ahead of September’s jobs and skills summit, Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth has been charged with driving cultural change among corporate bosses and peak industry groups, as 480,000 positions sit vacant nationally.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers this week announced expanding employment opportunities would be a focus of the jobs summit.
New research by disability employment organisation Jigsaw shows half of Australian managers and HR executives said they had never hired or worked with a person with disability, despite 2.1 million Australians with disability being of working age. Just 47.8 per cent of the cohort are employed.
Nearly 80 per cent of Australian businesses told researchers that job-ready applicants with disability could help address labour shortages worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barriers existed for 65 per cent of employers, who said they were unsure how or where to access potential workers with a disability. Jigsaw found 91 per cent of businesses that have hired a person with disability using the federal government’s Disability Employment Services (DES) system faced challenges in hiring and retaining candidates.
“In a workforce as tight as we’re currently facing, it’s time for a seismic shift in how employers engage with the disability workforce, and how governments support them to do so,” chief executive Paul Brown said.
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