Australia supports people with disabilities to advance their careers

The Career Pathways Pilot challenges misconceptions, emphasising the untapped potential of individuals with disabilities.
By: | November 23, 2023

The Australian government has launched the Career Pathways Pilot, an 18-month initiative designed to enhance career opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Stemming from the Jobs and Skills Summit, the initiative is a collaborative effort between the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Network on Disability, and the Commonwealth, alongside the participation of major employers like Coles Group, Compass Group, Kmart and Target Group, and Woolworths.

With a budget of A$3.3 million (US$2.16 million) in Commonwealth funding, the pilot programme will initially focus on over 80 Australians with disability, with the results expected to benefit many more.

Australia is home to 4.4 million people with disabilities, including 2.1 million of working age. However, only 53.4% of them are currently part of the labour force, maintaining an unemployment rate for people with disabilities significantly higher than those without for over three decades.

An objective of the pilot is to challenge prevailing misconceptions about the capabilities of individuals with disabilities. While 93% of working-age people with disabilities encounter difficulties securing employment due to perceived limitations, 88% require no adjustments to excel in their roles. The initiative seeks to reshape employer attitudes, emphasising the value of hiring individuals with disabilities.

Amanda Rishworth, Australia’s Minister for Social Services, said, “Boosting disability employment shouldn’t just be about any job, it should provide pathways to career progression too, and we know that disability-inclusive businesses grow profits more than four times faster than their peers.”

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The pilot programme will adopt a co-design approach, actively involving people with disability in shaping the programme’s implementation to ensure it effectively addresses their needs. Employers will gain access to specialised recruitment expertise, tools, and resources to recruit and support individuals with disability, expanding their focus beyond entry-level roles to include management positions.

Bran Black, Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia, concluded, “This initiative will lead to increased, sustainable and measurable improvements in employment and career advancement outcomes for people with disability.”