Some people (having lives) spend their weekends doing fun stuff. Others, old, boring and friendless, spend their spare time checking out stuff that interests them professionally.
I have a particular interest in the employment of people with disability and this includes asking the fundamental question as to whether 1: they are worth hiring; and 2: whether their labour requires subsidy.
I believe that the answers (in order) are ‘yes’ and ‘no’
So a paper by Erik Samoy and Lina Waterplas; “Designing wage subsidies for people with disabilities, as exemplified by the case of Flanders (Belgium)” caught my attention.
On hiring people with disability:
“An interesting finding is that 34% of hiring employers declared that the outcome exceeded their expectations, the main reasons being that the worker performed better than expected and had a positive influence on the work of colleagues, and sick leave was lower than expected”.
This fits with my world view and with my firm belief that provided a good match between aspiration, ability and opportunity occurs is achieved, the contribution of workers who have a disability will often exceed that of their non-disabled peers.
The paper referenced above specifically looks at whether wage subsidy works and if that’s the case, what the scheme should look like.
Let’s look at the present situation in Australia:
1. Generous subsidies are available
2. The market for Disability Employment Service providers is cut throat with an oft repeated theme from the funding body: perform or lose market share/contract.
3. A ‘for profit’ component has been introduced
4. The ‘compliance’ framework has been strengthened (+risk of losing benefits)
Does that impact upon people with disability?
I believe that it crterates an environment in which subsidised employment, set for minimum funding body requirements (8hrs a week X 26 weeks) becomes the norm. This is not in the interests of people with disability.
In the reference cited above (I note this is NOT an Australian study) employers are clearly happy – however, that happiness in not universal:
“Although employees were happy to be in work, it was found that they often held low paid and low-skilled odd jobs for which they were sometimes overqualified. Interviewees reported negative consequences on their self-esteem and relationship with colleagues, loss of entitlement to unemployment benefits and conflicts over pay rate. The author concludes that scheme participants rather held the status of social clients than of employees and were in danger of being marginalised within employment”. Hohnen (2001)
In other words, workers with disability are stigmatised by the practice of discounting their labour.
Routinely offering subsidies as a means of inducing employers to hire creates an environment in which the product - their contribution - is seen as inferior and therefore requiring discount. This in turn reduces the range of available opportunities, leading to placement in lower skilled positions.
As I learned many years ago, subsidy money doesn’t matter: if the person can’t do the job no subsidy is sufficient and, if they can, why should the work of people with disability be discounted?
Why aren’t people with disability more frequently employed?
“The evidence suggests that price variables may be even less important for job offers to disabled people than they are in the labour market in general. Among other factors likely to influence employer’s hiring decisions, Mangan cites “uncertainty, discrimination (by themselves or in deference to other employees or customers), or economically-rational considerations of wage productivity”
So employers will be more likely to hire when they become educated about the contribution and capacity of people with disability. Workers who have a disability will be less discriminated against when their bosses and co-workers are encouraged to focus on ability.
What’s needed here is a campaign that doesn’t focus on discounting but rather on the facts that workers with disability in suitable roles are as productive as their non-disabled peers and do not place an additional burden on their employers or colleagues.
Take a look at this video and see for yourselves how disability can disappear: http://www.focusonability.com.au/FOA/films/Jamess_Story_680.html
Hohnen, P. (2001). “When work is like a gift. An analysis of new forms of exclusion on the Danish labour market”. The Open Labour Market Working Paper 11:2001. Copenhagen: The Danish National Institute of Social Research. Market Working Paper 11:2001. Copenhagen: The Danish National Institute of Social Research.
Mangan, J: 1990: Wage Subsidies for the disabled: a discussion of their impact in Australia. International Journal of Manpower,p211.
Samoy, E. & Waterplas, L: “Designing wage subsidies for people with disabilities, as exemplified by the case of Flanders (Belgium)” ALTER, European Journal of Disability Research 6 (2012) 94–109.
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Not so bad! Taken from: Today's Guardian at 4.09pm Tuesday 7th November 2017:
In a world full of discouragement there’s always a space for good news....
The NDIS mantra is 'choice and control'
To be valuable, choice needs to be informed.
Average Sydney Disability Employment Services placement rates are 34....
It's voting time at "Focusonability" - with a record number of films entered, a tremendous effort by more than 100 High Schools and 19 countries competing in the International section it was always going to be a hard job to pick a winner....
Choice & Control
The NDIS slogans around choice and control demonstrate the importance of consumer involvement in both the choice and control of supports they need.
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Last week (14-16) it was my privilege to attend the 1st World Supported Employment Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
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Quality and the Stars Quality and the Stars
There have probably been few people more openly critical of the Disability Employment Service (DES) Star Ratings than me.
The Stars, ranging from 1 to 5 are supposed to give some insight into whether a service is a poor or high performing program....
Attended the Disability Employment Australia (DEA) forum in Canberra. THis is a regular get together that offers disability employment services tha chance to be kept up to date from our funding body and also listed to expert speakers on topics associated with the goal of seeing as many people as possible find and keep suitable employment....
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A corner turned?
We are presently holding events to promote employment for people with disability - nor surprise there, that's our job.
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Say No to Quotas!
The pernicious idea that 'quota's' might be the solution for disability employment continue:
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The number of placements made has seriously improved - up 31% in 2015 and a further 14% in 2016, NOVA operates at at rate of placement better than 150% over 2014!
Whats really exciting is that this has been achieved without compromising on the level of disability that can be supported by NOVA's teams (if anything this has risen)....
Famous last words!
O.K. - sorry that you need to cut and paste: http://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace-relations/100-million-payday-for-1anhour-staff-with-disabilities-20161216-gtcius....
Not sure if this will be my last blog post for 2016 but just in case, a quick look back at 2016:
Best ever year for total number of placements
Best ever year for long term employment outcomes
Best ever year for Apprenticeships and Traineeships
Best ever year for Transition to Work outcomes
Best ever year for media coverage
Best ever year for 'Focusonability'
Best ever year for Transition to Work (TTW)
How about 2017?
Looking good, so stay in touch and have a terrific holiday, be safe and hopefully Santa will bring you all that you wish for....
Choice is only of value when it's informed (written about this here previously)
I have the numbers for disability employment services (DES-ESS) up till 30th June this year and I am delighted to see that NOVA is responsible for almost 25% of all employment lasting 6 months or more (28 providers) and almost as many as next 2 providers combined....
The NDIS held out hope and promise to people with a disability, the opportunity to exercise choice and control and was heralded as the answer to the prayers of our most disadvantaged and vulnerable citizens....
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Regular readers will be aware of my unhappiness with things that I think are important to people with disability - stuff like, wages earned, hours worked etc....
Best Show on TV Morning All
Sorry you need to cut and paste: http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/802326595536/focus-on-ability-film-festival-2016
Best show on TV - bar none and, if you want to skip my bit I get off at 3:10 and you can get straight to some of the truly terrific films from this year's "Focusonability" short film festival....
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NOVA needs you - come and join us
NOVA needs You!!
Wednesday 2nd November
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Today some of Australia's disability employment services will learn whether they will be allowed to continue to deliver their programs or whether they are to be replaced....