"Collective unconsciousness can be so vast that even the most global societal policies may be undeclared, unexplicated, unacknowledged, and even denied. Thus for many people to all work toward a bad thing requires no deliberate or conscious conspiracy" - Wolfensberger 2007
Do Wage subsidies work?
We might hope that were so, after all, the Commonwealth Government spend a small fortune subsidising the wage cost of folk from a variety of disadvantaged groups. However, there's not a whole load of research to suggest a subsidy is of genuine benefit to the person concerned and I will come back to the argument that, for people with disability, ineffective use of wage subsidy can be a damaging experience.
First of all, some recent research (1):
"In this study, we investigate an employer-side wage subsidy targeted at the long-term unemployed in Germany. The program's objective is to increase exit rates from unemployment to employment and to induce stable employment relationships for the economically disadvantaged target group. Using a large administrative data we assess the effectiveness of the program by estimating the impact of subsidy eligibility on employment outcomes.
We exploit the eligibility criterion of the program in conjunction with an RDD approach to investigate whether or not the availability of the subsidy is beneficial for the target group. Individuals just below the 12-month unemployment threshold are used as control group reflecting the hypothetical situation of non-existence of the government support. Given our large sample sizes around the cut-off point we can estimate the effect locally and obtain new results on subsidy effectiveness. We do not find any significant impact on employment outcomes. The possibility for firms to reduce wage cost by hiring preferably the long-term unemployed does not affect their exit rates out of unemployment. Furthermore, we find no substantial improvement on employment stability for those individuals due to the subsidy program"
The St. Gallen study, the most recent I could find, had a large sample size and suggests little to no benefit on the long term prospects of the subsidised employee.
I would argue that for people with disability the effect of wage subsidy is worse, creating a culture within the workspace that suggests, in Australian terms, 'nothing for nothing' - if a worker's wages are subsidised (and our funding body has created an environment that positively rewards fully purchased outcomes) then the only reason that makes any real sense is that this is because a person with a disability is inherently worth less.
Could wage subsides do harm?
Wolfensberger argues (above and '2' ) that it possible for well-intentioned big powerful groups to 'wound''smaller groups through deliberate action. Amongst the 21 possible classes of wounds are 'object of pity' and 'burden of charity'. I believe that the heavy promotion of wage subsidy linked to disability both spreads and perpetuates a view that it is only by off-setting the cost of a person's disability that they might become attractive or even acceptable to an employer.
Subsidies are not needed. NOVA's Richmond outlet under the stewardship of Selina Macarthur achieved a 12 month no use of subsidies, no job losses record while meeting every KPI required by both NOVA and our funding body.
Do wage subsidies reflect a world view?
If Australians believe that there is, 'nothing for nothing' then could it be that the persons responsible for program guidelines concerning people with disability also believe that such persons have little or no real worth to employers.
Maybe, but the facts argue differently. Statistically people with disability are as productive or more productive that their non-disabled peers, they take less sick time and are only as likely or even less likely than their non-disabled peers to make Workplace Health & Safety claims.
NOVA employs a large number of people with disability and I can categorically state they are amongst our most productive employees. We don't need a subsidy to appreciate their talent and neither should anyone else - educate on ability and contribution and not at sale or discount prices.
1. Schnemann, B., Lechner, M., & Wunsch, C.: "Do Long-term Unemployed Workers Benefit from Targeted Wage Subsidies?" July 2011 Discussion Paper no. 2011-26 School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen
2. Wolfensberger, W. 1991: 'A brief introduction to Social Role Valorization as a high-order concept for structuring human services'. Training Institute for Human Service Planning, Leadership and Change Agentry (Syracuse University Syracuse, NY:).
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