The background

I’ll cut to the chase: subsidies don’t work.

I’ll tell you why.

A large proportion of employment placements assisted by subsidies or incentives dry up as soon as the discounting ends. As well, more often than not, employment service staff lead their job seeking with the line, 'You're a good person; you run a fine business; how’d you like to do something for charity? Employ this person with a disability and we’ll even pay you to do it.’

There are a few things wrong with this approach:

  • Subsidy implies that this person would not ‘sell’ without a discount, which devalues the job seeker from the start
  • Employers with their eye on the dollar rather than on employing effective staff will jump at a subsidy every time
  • When the subsidy period ends, more often than not the worker loses their job. In this instance, it’s hard to convince the worker that it wasn't their fault. Remember, many people with disability have been discriminated against in the past. This leads them to experience the Golem effect, where poor or negative expectations become reality. (This is the opposite of the Pygmalion effect, where we usually rise to meet high expectations of us.)

I illustrate the awful effects of poor expectations in my book The Ten Demandments - how to improve employment services for people with disability.

Despite subsidies being largely ineffective, the status quo clings to them like a rat to a sinking ship. Want to be a part of the force that advocates employment for people with disability based on merit? Get in contact.


With determination and high expectations, this young man now has a job he enjoys and is starting to live independently. We don’t need subsidies to enable open employment of people with disability.


As part of my new book, The Ten Demandments, I've created a free, downloadable guide called: ‘The job seekers’ guide to finding a great employment service’. This guide provides job seekers with a set of ten questions to ask their current or prospective employment service to ascertain if they are likely to find them an award-wage job that suits their skills and interests. To access the free guide, please click here.