New research study: What do people with intellectual disability think about their jobs in different types of employment?

28 Nov 2016

The Social Policy Research Centre and Southern Cross University recently undertook a study (PDF) of what people with intellectual disability think of their jobs in three different types of employment – open employment, supported employment (Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) and social enterprise employment. The study asked how they were supported to choose, find, maintain and change employment and about the likes, dislikes and outcomes they experienced in each employment type. 51 people with intellectual disability took part.

The study found that people seeking work in open employment experienced the most barriers to both finding and maintaining a job. Work in supported employment (ADEs) and social enterprise employment was easier to secure, although sometimes people had to wait for a paid role in a social enterprise. These conditions affected the extent to which people with intellectual disability could enact and maintain their employment choices.

The study also found that none of the employment options offer everything that people with intellectual disability may want:

  • Open employment offers better pay and mainstream community connections than supported employment. However, it was harder to get into than supported employment, had less stability, and people with intellectual disability were more likely to face discrimination in open employment.
  • Supported employment offered less pay and less mainstream community connections than open employment, but more support and stability.
  • Social enterprises were perceived as both supportive and connected to the mainstream community. However, not enough paid positions were available and often people worked in unpaid or partially paid positions until a paid position came up.

People with intellectual disability may therefore make a trade-off between pay, stability, community connections and work environment (including discrimination). The policy implications of the report are about how to build the capacity of all employment types to deliver on all outcomes and better support people with intellectual disability in their working lives.

More info: Employment Model Outcomes for People With Intellectual Disability