Monday, 12 August 2019

Why I can’t get employed with a disability

This is part 1 of my Finding a job with autism series.

More than three years since my last post, I have done an Honours degree and have been unable to find a job but have done casual positions for a few elections.

After doing an Honours degree, I want to do a PhD one day but before then, I feel that I need some more experience in research. This means that I have to find a job as a research assistant. But finding a job when I have a disability is harder in a world that does not seem to think that people with a disability make good employees.

In 2018, it was discovered that many Japanese government agencies were not meeting compulsory employment quotas for people with a disability even though they met these quotas on paper. This happened because the employees counted for this quota were not properly confirmed as people with a disability and agencies seemed to be exploiting loopholes. This caused a scandal in Japan.

While Australia does not have employment quotas for people with a disability, there is a scheme called RecruitAbility that allows people with a disability to advance to the next stage in the employment process if they meet the minimum standards for some public service jobs. This could be seen as a way for the public service to increase the number of employees with a disability. However, this journal article stated that out of 1,193 positions opting in to the RecruitAbility scheme, only 43 people with a disability were employed. In other words, only 3.6% of positions were filled by someone with a disability. This is not acceptable when a large number of people with a disability are unemployed and looking for work.

From my experience, while I have been able to get a few video and face to face interviews for jobs that were advertised under the aforementioned scheme, I have not been successful. I know that as someone with a disability, it is harder for me to find a job but the disability I have, which is a form of autism, makes the interview stage a lot tougher.

As someone on the autism spectrum, I have to compete for a job under a system that disadvantages me. The system requires me to have certain abilities in social communication that I do not have due to my disability. No wonder why in 2015 the unemployment rate for people with autism was 31.6% in Australia compared to 10% for people with a disability in general. If this is to change, employers need to be creative in how they find suitable employees. Maybe remove the interview stage and find other ways in choosing someone for the job. A job trial or a chance to provide a sample of the work required are my suggestions.  As someone with autism, there is a good chance that I will not do well in an interview but if I was able to show my ability to do a job in another way, I might be able to get a job.

The longer I stay unemployed, the harder it is going to be to find a job.  It would be nice to find a job before the end of this year.  Unfortunately, I am not the only one struggling in finding employment while having a disability. If things do not change, Australia will be the next country with a disability employment scandal.

For part 2 of this blog series, click here.

Note: This blog post may not be reproduced partially or in full without my written consent. If you wish to use this blog post in any form, you must write to me first.

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