The following is taken from the ABC’s “The Drum”: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4090816.html
Disability employment: noble cause, failed policy
Pink batts, school halls, budget deficits, border protection - the list of policy failures from our Government keeps growing. Now we can add another name to the list: the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC) program.
If you have never heard of the NDRC program, you would not be alone. It is an obscure program with the noble cause of creating more employment opportunities for people with disability by supporting large employers like Woolworths, Westpac and Australia Post.
Sounds nice in theory, but is it working? The short answer is no. The long answer is that the program has consistently failed to meet its employment targets, even after those targets have been revised downward year after year.
Now, everybody knows I am a whinger and a Jeremiah and I carp on about failures in government policy and the fact is that the employers noted above and others using the NDRC are brilliant, fabulous places to work that go out of their way to take on board the individual needs of people with Disability.
The failure doesn’t lie with employers
So, then, is the failure’s WorkFocus’s (they deliver the program)?
Nope, they have worked hard to get their program recognised and they try to get as many employers involved as possible.
So why hasn’t it worked??
For the same reason the various incarnations of the same program have failed for more than 20 years – the people that designed it don’t understand the needs of people with disability. Coming from a fundamentally flawed perspective an employer’s needs focussed program MUST fail.
That’s OK, here’s the deal : people with a disability are just that; they have a disability. No put down, no slur intended but each has a disability and therefore they require accommodation in their employment. That can come in various forms but each person is an individual and they need an individual approach to their career development.
Imagine 2 filing cabinets.
In the first cabinet are a list of job seekers and their various abilities/needs. Along comes an employer and offer the service provider a job. The service provider looks at the requirements and selects the person closest to the employers stated requirements.
In the second cabinet is another list of job seekers and their various needs. The service provider takes the first file, looks at the requirements of the job seeker and then goes out to find an employer that can be worked with to design a job that matches the job seekers individual needs.
One fits a person to a job, the other looks to tailor a job to the person.
The differences may appear subtle but they can mean the difference between success and failure for people with any disability of significance.
The danger is that repeating this program and/or similar incarnations will weaken employer support for our disability employment programs. (I actually spoke about this danger at a public forum in 1990!).
This is what works or would work (of course I can prove it, wouldn’t suggest otherwise!):
1. Be really proud of, and have absolute faith in, your product (people that have a disability)
2. Market individual job seekers for what they can do and NOT on the basis of subsidy (foreign owned for profits please read)
3. Use the NDRC to simply advertise the value of our job seekers.
4. Individually tailor the job and duty statement to match employer’s expectations
5. Provide extensive post placement support as required.
Not rocket science, enshrined in Disability Services Act (1996), demonstrated to work and leads to good will from employers and workers alike.
See me for more detail
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