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Job-seeker tool launched for people with disabilities amid ’employment crisis’

My Workbridge is a job-search tool to help disabled people and others facing various barriers into employment.
My Workbridge is a job-search tool to help disabled people and others facing various barriers into employment.

By Melanie Carroll for Stuff, Dec 3, 2021

Jobseekers with disabilities have a new job-search tool to help them find work, in a job market that is crying out for skilled labour.

Disability employment organisation Workbridge launched an online jobs portal on Friday, the International Day for Disabled People.

People with disabilities in New Zealand – estimated at 1.1 million people –face an “employment crisis”, Workbridge chief executive Jonathan Mosen​ has said previously, with very high levels of unemployment.

Only 42 per cent of working age disabled people were in work in the three months ended June, compared with 79 per cent of non-disabled people, according to Stats NZ.

The My Workbridge website gave Workbridge jobseekers access to roles not advertised elsewhere, tools to help them build CVs and prepare for interviews, and information about how accessible a business was for disabled people, Mosen said on Friday.

Workbridge chief executive Jonathan Mosen.
Workbridge chief executive Jonathan Mosen.

“We are essentially acting as a screening process, because when a job goes into the My Workbridge portal, it’s been put there from an employer who we’ve been working with.

“That means that you can, as a disabled person, expect some degree of disability confidence with that employer, and so it means you’re more likely to be viewed favourably and judged on your merits, rather than perhaps misjudged based on perceptions of disability,” he said.

Challenges with standard job sites included lack of accessibility for people using some assistive technology, and lack of information for disabled people who had unique requirements.

“If for example you use a wheelchair, you might like to know how accessible is the building that I’m going into with this job, is it even worth me applying if it’s difficult for me to get in.

“How noisy is it if I have a hearing impairment? The regular jobsites aren’t going to go into that kind of detail because they’re targeted at a mainstream audience.”

Workbridge recently launched another website, justsayyes.co.nz, offering support and training for employers who wanted to make their workplaces more accessible for people with disabilities.

“One of the reasons we invested money and time into spinning out that new brand is that we feel like there’s a hunger out there,” said Mosen.

“People know they have to do better and it’s not that they’re resistant or anything, it’s just that they don’t know how.

“So we’re trying to be a constructive part of the solution and offer that service to employers, to help them understand how.”

The jobseeker portal was free for jobseekers and employers, and Workbridge was funded by the Ministry of Social Development for that work.