THEY are a talent pool offering diversity, loyalty and a boost to productivity.
A growing body of research is showing that people with a disability are ideal workers who raise the morale and standards of an entire workplace.
Disability advocates and industry groups are urging Tasmanian employers to not only give people with a disability a fair go but also take advantage of the benefits they offer.
Tasmania has more than 10,500 people with a disability and thousands of them are estimated to be of working age and capable of being employed.
National Disability Insurance Scheme state manager David Clements said they represented an untapped pool of skills for many Tasmanian workplaces.
“There are benefits for employers and for the Tasmanian economy,” Mr Clements said.
National Disability Service research shows people with a disability take fewer sickies, are more loyal and have higher levels of retention.
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Mr Clements said employing people with disabilities made good business sense.
He said staff morale was shown to lift when a person with a disability joined a team, and this led to greater productivity.
“If we feel we are doing a good thing, then we are more engaged with our work. And there’s a strong connection between engagement with work and increased productivity.”
A survey by the Business Council of Australia has found nearly half (47 per cent) of people with a disability are not in the workforce
But about 20 per cent of this group has no employment restriction — their disability is not preventing them from employment.
The survey found large companies and those with a major retail presence were more likely to actively seek to employ people with disability.
Mr Clements said organisations reported greater customer engagement after hiring staff with disabilities.
The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is also urging businesses to realise the advantages of employing people from diverse backgrounds.
TCCI chief executive Michael Bailey said employers who took on people with disabilities realised the costs were no greater but the benefits were real.
“We find that people with disabilities are the most loyal employees a business has,” he said. “They also have extraordinary low levels of sick days.”
Raising the level of employment among people with disabilities is part of the economic rational underpinning the rollout of the NDIS.
It is hoped the $22 billion scheme, which begins rolling out next month, will be financially offset by participants’ workforce participation and economic independence.
Oak Tasmania chief executive John Paton said raising employment levels among people with disabilities also helped the individuals concerned.
“People feel good when they are in a job, they are less marginalised and feel they can take part in society,” he said.
Dylan Wagner, who works part-time in woodwork with Oakdale Industries, is so keen to work he has also launched his own business: Dylan’s Mowing Service.
With the support of his Oak IT and literacy programs, he has registered his business name and secured a micro business loan.
“I love working outside,” the 21-year-old said.