The unemployment rate for differently-abled talent has been high for a long time now. It is in fact three times higher than the average unemployment rate in the state.
In response to these statistics, the Victorian Government has announced a $2.1 Mn investment towards Inclusion Foundation's Impact21 programme which is aimed at enhancing job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The programme also helps businesses build their readiness and capability to “sustain a diverse workforce”, said a press release.
The latest investment brings the government's total funding support to the initiative to over $3.3 Mn since November 2021.
"Reducing the barriers to gaining employment for people with disability benefits everyone and that's why we're backing this important programme," said Disability Minister Anthony Carbines in a statement.
"This programme is supporting young adults with intellectual disability to find purposeful work and giving them the opportunity to enjoy the independence and security a job can bring," he added.
The Impact21 programme works towards making differently-abled talent work ready by training them with industry-relevant skills and helping them develop confidence and independence. It also helps them network with employers.
10 out of the 12 graduates from the programme's first batch are already employed with sustainable jobs, according to a media release. Most recently, on World Down Syndrome Day (March 21), 14 young adults graduated from the initiative.
"As a result of the funding, we now have young people with Down Syndrome earning real wages in real jobs and employers are benefitting from their unique skills and abilities," said Andre Carvalho, CEO, Inclusion Foundation.
He added that the programme works with employers and employees to "ensure long-lasting sustainable results that are good for people and good for business".
The programme also helps employers build their readiness, so they can become more confident and capable of "sustaining a diverse workforce," said the government's media release.
According to the Labour government, the investment in Impact21 is just one of the initiatives under Jobs Victoria to help people with disabilities find jobs. Through the Jobs Victoria Fund, the government also grants employers with wage subsidies of up to $20,000 when they hire a person with disability.
With greater investment and financial support towards inclusion of differently-abled talent, the government is enabling the untapped talent pool to not just access jobs but thrive and grow in their careers. It will be interesting to see how corporates and the government collaborate to bring about authentic equity and inclusion for all.