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Career Advancement Pilot - National Disability Employment Initiative

Young man and woman working in cafe The Career Advancement pilot aims to assist people with disability who are currently working to advance their careers.

Disability Employment Australia is running the pilot project in partnership with ten Disability Employment Service (DES) providers around Australia. It is funded through the National Disability Employment Initiative (NDEI).

The NDEI pilot is funded by the Australian Government and managed by WorkFocus.

1. What is the Career Advancement Pilot?

Through the pilot, we are attempting to gather evidence of the deman for career services and some evidence of what works. We will advocate for career advancement to be included as an element of the existing Disability Employment Services program, so such services are available nationally based on demand.

The pilot is a nine month project, undertaken in partnership with ten Disability Employment Service providers, and is limited to 110 participants nationally.

Services offered

The pilot will provide services to 110 people with disability who have a job, but would like to move to a better ones in future.

Participants might want better pay, more hours, or a different type of job.  It is up to the participant to set career advancement goals with their career advancement consultant. The career consultant will then work with the participant to implement the plan. This could mean contacting employers or training organisations.

Throughout the process the career advancement consultant will work to increase participant skills and knowledge to allow them to continue to drive their own career advancement after the completion of the project. The aim of the project is to assist participants to self-advocate and develop their career after their involvement in the project has finished.

Each participant will take part in a survey three to six months after the project has completed to track progress and to help evaluate the pilot project’s success.

What did the project find?

  1. The project set out to test a model for a pilot a targeted, low-cost intervention to assist people with disability who have successfully moved into work to advance in their careers.
  2. The project started in October 2013.  This evaluation covers the period to 13 June 2014.  While this is insufficient time to measure the long term impact and potential of this type of service, the project has generated significant short term benefits which suggest that the approach has a great deal of potential.
  3. In designing the project, Disability Employment Australia also incorporated a principle that emerged from research into career counselling people with disability: the focus of the work should be on building the capacity of people to make their own career decisions and to advocate for themselves.
  4. Disability Employment Australia commissioned the Careers Education Association of Victoria to develop training for Career Advance Pilot caseworkers which reflected this evidence.  The training included two days initial training and a series of skills focussed webinars.   The training was well received by participants and was seen by most as contributing to the effectiveness of the pilot.
  5. Participants in the Career Advance Pilot were mixed in terms of age, primary disability type and education level.  They tended to be better educated that the overall DES client group – more had finished high school or done a TAFE course.  They were also more likely to be in permanent employment (48%) than the wider DES group (24%).  Seventy five per cent (75%) were part time.
  6. The most frequently identified goals of participants were (in order): identifying a long term career path; more pay; more hours; more challenging work and greater job security.  The need for better workplace accommodations, or unhappiness in the current workplace were the least prevalent – which may reflect the fact that these are more likely to be addressed through Ongoing Support services.
  7. At the time of the evaluation it was reported that 75% of participants had achieved an identifiable improvement in their employment position (see Table A).  While many of these were anticipatory (increased skills relevant to the future), when this ‘increased skills’ category was excluded, 54% of participants had achieved one or more immediate improvements in their work.

Table A

An independent survey of participants was conducted by the evaluator and found similarly positive outcomes, despite the short project period.  More than 20% of this group reported improved pay or hours, while only 13% reported ‘no change’.

  1. Participants surveyed reported that the personal support provided by caseworkers was the most helpful service that they had received.  Evidence from these surveys and from the caseworkers themselves suggests that the caseworkers did, indeed, take the approach of exploring job goals and then supporting the participant to advocate for themselves.
  2. Overall, the outcomes from this limited pilot suggest that there is enormous potential for a targeted career advancement service to produce improvements in conditions and satisfaction for participants as well as wider economic and social benefits for the economy.
  3. At the end of this report some suggestions are made in relation to design.  In particular it appears that, while career advancement services fit well within the organisations providing DES services – and there are great benefits from side by side provision – these are different services.  The skills required to deliver the service are similar – but distinct from those required to deliver employment placement services.  Perhaps most importantly, it is in the nature of career advancement services that they should reflect the specific circumstances and aspirations of the people who seek them.  Central objective setting, or definition of a positive outcome, will not work in this context.  In this, they are closely aligned with the user driven principles underpinning the NDIS.  In any future scheme, funding models and performance measures would need to reflect these principles.

Disability Employment Services that took part in the pilot include:

Career Advancement Resources

Do you want to make a change in your career now? These resources will assist you to get started.

Career Hunter

Career Hunter is aimed at helping people find out about jobs and skills. The app was founded by the Smith Family, and allows job seekers of all ages to gain employment information at any time. Practitioners can use this app to explore suitable career opportunities with their clients.

The app includes:

  • Industry profiles (size, market, job growth, gender profile average age and average income);
  • Top jobs and skills shortages in each industry;
  • Job descriptions;
  • Training requirements and organisations that provide the training with GPS locations; and
  • Current job vacancies.

The app draws the data from Australian Job Outlook website

Currently only available from Apple’s App Store.

Job Interview Questions Prep

This is a free video app that helps individuals improve their answers to tough interview questions. Each video is 1-2 minutes in length and allows a user to see and hear the best way to structure answers in order to make a lasting impression to the hiring manager and stand out over other candidates.

It aims to increase the confidence of an individual during the interview process and gain an understanding over what the hiring manager is looking for in the responses to the interview questions. The app also includes a free interview preparation kit and job interview webinar. Currently only available from Apple’s App Store.