From disability to employability

Funnily enough, people with a disability are great employees, they just need some support to transition to work.
Aug 10, 2021
Help and support makes the disabled transition into great employees.

The recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on People Living with Disability, found approximately 52 per cent of young people aged 15 to 24 living with disability participated in the labour force, compared to nearly 72 per cent of young people who don’t have disability.

Having a job makes a huge difference to these students' lives and Dapto High School, NSW, has seen the difference transitioning from school into a job can make.

“Our student cohort and their broader community struggle with high rates of socio-economic disadvantage including unemployment, family dislocation, related stress and mental health barriers. This negatively impinges on the opportunities and support available to young people seeking employment and career pathways,” says Peter Johnson, Senior Student Mentor, Dapto High School.

atWork Australia’s School2atWork program is designed to assist and support students who are behind the eight ball, transition from school to work or further education. The program collaborates with local schools and provides information and support for students to plan their next steps in ultimately reaching their employment goals.

A dedicated Job Coach provides support to the school leaver so they become work-ready and finds the right job, provides post-placement support and support in the role, health and wellbeing coaching and access to in-house health professionals, as well as practical assistance like preparing a résumé and cover letter, interview skills training and employer negotiations.

The School2atWork program is available in over 300 locations across Australia. In the past 12 months, over 600 school leavers have been given workplace or further education opportunities including apprenticeships and traineeships, in a range of industries and sectors such as retail, hospitality, construction, administration and building trades.

“We have worked with the team at atWork Australia for more than a decade, assisting hundreds of students from mainstream education and those living with disability into full-time careers and/or training. The level of support afforded by the team is of the highest order and we have had many wonderful outcomes for students in that time,” says Johnson.

“The students we work with might live with a physical, learning or intellectual disability, a diagnosed medical condition, like Autism or have a mental health condition, so it’s important that we tailor the program to suit the individual. We work on a local level with the school, employers and the community as well as the student’s family and support network to find a job that suits the students’ strengths, and helps them reach their career and life goals,” says Steve Carder, General Manager Disability Employment Services (DES), atWork Australia.

It’s also a win for the businesses who employ people with disability, research has shown that they have higher rates of retention, better attendance and fewer occupational health and safety incidents.

“Many local schools use our School2atWork program as a way to engage disengaged, vulnerable youth. This has proven to be successful and has changed many lives,” says Katie Morales, Client Engagement Consultant, at atWork Australia’s Illawarra office.