Considering my friends, colleagues and social media connections, I recently concluded that there appear to be fewer people with disabilities working in mainstream employment than there are in disability-related organisations. I found myself wondering why this is. from conversations with people, both within and outside the disability community, it appears the reasons may be complex.
Generally, it appears that people with disabilities feel unwelcome in mainstream employment, citing examples of inaccessible recruitment, hiring and onboarding processes, and significant challenges due to attitudinal barriers held by people involved in human resource and managerial positions. I find myself wondering what career paths are offered to learners with disabilities within their education, and how broad those opportunities are. I’ve also been told that job seekers are uncertain of where to find information on possible jobs. For many, trying to find mainstream employment is simply seen as almost unachievable.
Yet, people in the recruitment space see the problem as being somewhat different. They mentioned that they seldom find candidates with the correct qualifications responding to their recruitment processes. Whether they believe this is due to lack of adequately effective job preparedness training, a lack to be found in basic, secondary or tertiary education services, or a gap in the systems they use to reach potential candidates is unclear. But again I find myself wondering how often they proactively try to look for suitable candidates from the disability community, investigate the accessibility of their processes, or even consider that it might be possible for a disable person to successfully fulfil a job.
Whatever the reason, I wanted to do what I can to start shifting awareness of possible mainstream career paths that exist, aimed at audiences both with and without disabilities. To do this, I recently started a series on my podcast, called Job Talk, which showcases disabled people in employment beyond the disability sector. I’m hoping this will open more opportunities.
In the episodes I invite my guests to share a little of their employment journey, their training and the skills they feel make them successful in their positions. And I am having fascinating conversations with people in diverse jobs and from different backgrounds.
I’d love to share the series with you, as well as a few other interviews I’ve previously done that touch on this space. So far, in the Job Talk series I have interviewed a legal practitioner and a tour guide, and am working on future episodes with a data analyst, a database administrator, and a mindset coach. I’ve also previously published episodes with disabled people working in tele-communications, in audio engineering, and working in basic education.
I want to be clear that I do not believe there is anything wrong with a person with a disability seeking employment within the disability sector. I’m planning on focusing on some of the amazing community organisations benefiting us as a sector in the future. However, the Job Talk series is specifically looking at opening new possibilities that people may not have previously considered.
I appreciate all the Job Talk guests for being so open and honest with me in sharing their experiences and look forward to sharing many more such stories with my community and listeners in the future.
Below I’ve included the links to all the interviews I’ve published so far, for ease of reference.
Other Related Episodes:
Episode 92 Katie Selby on the Importance of Learning Self-Advocacy as a Person with a Learning Disability: https://iono.fm/e/1379603
Episode 78: Charlie Dyasi – Audio Engineer and Voice Artist: https://iono.fm/e/1303281
Episode 77 Michelle Steiner on Living with an Invisible Disability: https://iono.fm/e/1298726
Episode 63: – Dr Kaaren Smit on Digital Inclusion in the Telecommunications Industry: https://iono.fm/e/1177549
**Photo credit: Tania Robbertze.