Forrest Personnel CEO, Anna Bagshaw, was recently part of a National Disability Services (NDS) virtual event entitled Disability employment in a digital world. Anna participated in a panel of experts that asked: How can people with disability be assisted to gain employment in a global labour market reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic?
We decided to catch up with Anna and discover something about what she presented as well as what she took away.
Forrest Personnel: How can people with disability be assisted in terms of employment?
Anna Bagshaw: I think there are several viable strategies. Skill-set training is one example. This involves short (2 – 3 week) courses during which people gain confidence and learn the language associated with a particular sector. Providing education and support for families is also a significant opportunity. If families are empowered, they can provide the support to people with disability to apply for jobs. This strategy ensures additional supports for people and guarantees better outcomes.
FP: Digitisation helps keep us connected. But, Covid-19 is also affecting parts of the world in markedly different ways. What were some of the differences noted by your colleagues on the panel in terms of assisting people with disability crack into employment during this most challenging of times?
AB: There was a presenter from Victoria, and of course, that state was in lockdown and thus finding it very difficult to move things forward. Here in WA, and while we were in lockdown, there were very few opportunities for people with disability to work from home. Post lockdown, there are many, many available jobs in sectors including logistics, retail and cleaning. There now appears to be more opportunities than people. In the USA, however, the situation was very different. The organisation represented on the panel was located in a ‘booming’ market and they found it easy to set people up and get them working from home.
FP: You are well known for your mantra that working is a fundamental human right. In fact, this was promoted in the pre-conference literature. Can you expand on this a little?
AB: Definitely. I do believe that working is a human right. Unfortunately, far too many people do not enjoy the right. By not being engaged in work, people miss out on the personal and social benefits that work offers. This includes, of course, financial wellbeing and social connectedness. And, from a broader economic perspective, employment discrimination is also a huge waste of human capital. So, yes, we would all be much better off if more people – and more people with disability, injury and illness – were involved in the world of work.
Photo: Anna Bagshaw participating in the Disability employment in a digital world virtual conference, 13 October 2020
Forrest Personnel is a local charity. We specialise in supporting people with health conditions, injuries and disabilities to find and keep jobs.
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