Unlocking potential: What the research tells us about the current enablers of employment for disabled people

What are the untapped economic and social impacts of empowering disabled people in the workforce, and how can we unlock that potential? This is especially important given the urgency of filling over 300,000 jobs in the Construction and Infrastructure sectors over the next five years.

Waihanga Ara Rau and Hanga Aro Rau are working together to understand the experiences of Disabled People, Tāngata Whaikaha Māori* and Tagata Sa’ilimalo** in the construction and infrastructure, along with the logistics, manufacturing and engineering sectors.

The research reviews the roles of key national agencies, the status of disabled communities in New Zealand, and national and international research on the barriers and enablers of employment for Disabled People in workplaces within the above set of industries.

Kōrero includes:

  • How employment enables Disabled People in our society
  • How supporting disabled people in the workplace can increase revenue and productivity
  • And how getting more Disabled People into the workforce can contribute billions of $s to our economy.

Why is employment so important?

Employment is a basic human right. Everyone, regardless of their disability status, has the right to work, to choose their employment freely, to work in just conditions and to be protected against unemployment. Employment is also associated with a range of benefits for disabled and non-disabled workers, including improved physical and mental health and better overall wellbeing.

But it’s not just the individual who stands to gain, the wider economy also benefits from the employment of disabled people.

In 2017, NZIER calculated a fiscal benefit of NZD $1.45 billion if the labour force participation rates of people with and without disabilities were equalised, while Malatest International in 2016 estimated the opportunity cost to the government from the exclusion of disabled people from the workforce at NZD 11.7 billion. Those figures demonstrate a tangible benefit to the economy of improving access to employment, decreasing underemployment, and utilising the talents of our disabled population.

The full research report will be shared with you over the coming weeks. We’ll share this with you.

In the meantime, you can read a literature review on this research.

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*Māori people with disabilities

**Pacific people with disabilities