Historically low unemployment rates in Australia have created many challenges for employers struggling to fill vacancies.
Still, at the same time, they have created an extremely favourable situation for people who have traditionally struggled to find employment opportunities.
Throughout my time in the employment services industry, much of our work has been dedicated to building employer confidence in employing people with a non-traditional background.
We have needed to sell the many benefits of employing a person with a disability and attempt to overcome often highly embedded preconceptions and prejudices.
I can recall an instance many years ago, being told by an employer that ‘we don’t employ your kind of people around here,’ as if the people we were advocating for were a lower class of human beings.
Times have changed significantly since then, and most employers understand the benefits of having a diverse workforce.
In fact, given current labour shortages, employers seem willing to look beyond almost any barrier, provided the person has a decent work ethic and can be relied upon.
This fills me with optimism because it means that right now, we have a generation of employers getting their first experience of employing someone with a disability.
Employers now have a unique opportunity to experience the benefits for themselves and hopefully will forever change their understanding of and approach to employing a diverse workforce forever.
There is a catch though.
I see it as critical that these employers have a positive experience, or there is a risk that it may create further barriers and even greater prejudices.
I am not talking about a perfect recruitment experience here – most employers understand that hiring is rarely a flawless process.
I’m referring to the employer and employee being appropriately supported and set up for success.
At The Personnel Group, our model is far more than just placing people into work.
It involves building deep relationships with employers, where we understand their needs and preferences, and only putting forward potential employees who are a right fit for the business.
It involves appropriately preparing those potential employees, taking a holistic view of employment and how it can be achieved and then maintained.
And most importantly, it involves providing high-quality support after placement to overcome barriers as they arise.
This support can take many forms – training and skill development, productivity management, workplace modification, employer/employee relationship building, workplace integration, disability awareness training, change management etc.
I reflect sadly that in recent years, the employment services industry has hijacked the term ‘post placement support’ to describe the monitoring of a placement to ensure it is still in place.
Many providers see ‘PPS’ as an administrative mechanism to track claims and outcome payments, which was never its intended use.
Unsurprisingly – the providers who provide genuine support to employers get better results through repeat business from employers and better retention of their placements.
My hope is that DES providers across Australia embrace this incredible opportunity to showcase the breadth of our collective ability.
We understand that an employer having a great experience with DES is more valuable than any number of disability awareness or confidence sessions.