The benefits of employment for young people living with a disability are numerous.
A job provides increased income, higher living standards and, potentially, a pathway to financial independence. Employment can contribute to a sense of identity and self-worth and have numerous positive health impacts for some people living with a disability.
These days, more and more people with disabilities are joining the Australian workforce. However, this group is more than twice as likely to be unemployed, with an unemployment rate of around 10% compared to the national average of 3.6%. And for people with a mental illness or intellectual disability, the numbers are even higher with more than 20% being unemployed.
Similarly, younger people living with a disability are often more reluctant to enter the workforce, with those aged 15–24 around three times more likely to be unemployed (25%) than those aged 25–64 (7.9%).
But when you consider all the positive benefits people living with a disability can enjoy through work, it is clear why this needs to change for younger people.
Schools, guidance councillors, parents, friends, businesses and the wider community all need to play a role in making employment an achievable and enjoyable reality for this group.
By its very nature work showcases the ability of people – and pays less attention to their disabilities.
Of course, depending on what type of disability a person is living with, there may be some limitations on the kind of roles they can take on.
However, once offered a role, this should also provide confidence to the worker that their employer has the confidence they will do a great job!