How do we support our job seekers to stay focused on finding and maintaining employment? Do we take the time to find creative ways to keep them engaged?

Hang on a minute: isn’t it up to job seekers to make sure they comply with conditions imposed by their social welfare benefits? They know the rules. They have to toe the line!

However, there are myriad reasons why job seekers may not meet their obligations. Whether it’s due to literacy issues, illness, money problems, cognitive impairment or anxiety about looking for work, appointments may be missed and responsibilities skirted. There is no point indulging in punitive participation reports that lead to the distress of income loss. How does that help anybody?

Still fuming from reading in the Canberra Times that quotas or subsidies as incentives for employing people with disability might still be in fashion.

Let’s look at it from a business perspective. You have a product. You begin by promoting it with a discount, or even as a freebie. No matter, if its low price is the selling point, where do you go next?

This is what is happening when a disability employment service leads with a subsidy, rather than the value a job seeker adds to a business.

Where is the pride in your ‘product’ – trained, enthusiastic and supported workers? Best practice leads with the job seeker’s strengths, frequently doing away with subsidies while investing in good job matching and post-placement support.

But we’re not really here to talk about products and marketing are we? The biggest issue is what happens to the worker post-subsidy.

The pernicious idea that quotas might be the solution for disability employment continues (‘How China trumps Australia when it comes to supporting disabled workers’ Canberra Times 4/1/17). Comparisons with China are ridiculous. A much more useful and realistic comparison is between where we are now and where we could be.

But more to the point, my experience as the CEO of a large disability employment service is that quotas and subsidies don’t work.

A small number of employers see quotas as an opportunity to contribute toward an inclusive society while at the same time broadening the talent pool they call upon for staff. Many more do not, believing that employing a person with disability is too hard. Others employers might seek ‘token’ workers.

However, by far the worst effect of quotas and subsidies is the creation of the belief that people with disability are only employable when offered at a ‘sale price’.