With the right support and training, people living with intellectual disability can find and keep a job, which suits their strengths.
People living with intellectual disability have improved quality of life when working because they earn a fair wage, develop and use skills, and feel more important and valued.
While it may not be easy for you to find work, the key is access to information to help you get there.
Here, we’ve put together the facts about the benefits of employment, and included some examples of jobs that may suit you, too.
If you’re someone who’s living with intellectual disability, be confident there’s a job waiting for you and we can help you find it.
What is intellectual disability?
According to the national peak body representing people living with intellectual disability, Inclusion Australia, intellectual disability is characterised by limitations in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour, which covers many everyday social and practical skills.
Intellectual functioning — also called intelligence — refers to general mental capacity, such as learning, reasoning, and problem-solving. One way to measure intellectual functioning is through an IQ test — a score of under 75 indicates a limitation in intellectual functioning.
Adaptive behaviour is the collection of conceptual, social, and practical skills that are learned and performed by people in their everyday lives. For example, conceptual skills relate to things like language and literacy, and number concepts, while practical skills involve personal care, occupational skills, travel and transportation, and routines.
Intellectual disability and the benefits of work
Disability Employment Services (DES) is the Australian Government’s main disability employment service and helps people living with intellectual disability find and keep a job. We have over 340 offices and can help people living with intellectual disability to access the right job with the right employer.
According to Inclusion Australia, there is plenty of evidence about the social and economic benefits when people living with intellectual disability work.
These benefits include:
- A better quality of life from earning a fair wage
- Feeling more important and valued from developing and applying skills
- More social opportunities and friends
- Greater independence
- Improved physical and mental health
Working with people of all abilities also challenges community assumptions as many people in the community mistakenly think that people living with intellectual disability can’t work.
What types of jobs are out there?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost one half (44.3 per cent) of employed people living with intellectual disability were working as labourers, such as packers and product assemblers, or cleaners and laundry workers, in 2012.
Many of these people are employed in Australian Disability Enterprises, and while some people may prefer the supported employment setting, many others are successful in finding work in the open market, working alongside people of all abilities and reaping the benefits.
Reputable DES providers such as atWork Australia have the skills and experience to help people living with intellectual disability find work.
atWork Australia puts a lot of effort into helping people find and keep the right job. We’ll take into account your individual situation, listen to you, help you focus on your needs and strengths, and set employment goals that are best for you.
For instance, we’ll help you investigate jobs with flexible start times if that’s the support you need, or we’ll talk to employers about you so you don’t have to do it yourself. We’ll also be there to help you settle into your new job.
Here are six examples of jobs that atWork Australia has helped find for people living with intellectual disability:
- Administration assistant: We’ve supported many people who like being organised to find work as administration assistants. This role involves printing, filing and photocopying and suits people who like office work.
- Cleaner: Some of our clients who live with intellectual disability have great attention to detail and as a result have found satisfying work as cleaners working in all types of buildings from schools to offices.
- Trolley collector: This job has suited clients who wanted a job outside and not customer-facing. This role involves being active and busy but with the ability to breathe fresh air.
- Supermarket worker: You may love dealing with people all day long. Many of our more outgoing clients have landed jobs with supermarkets and they enjoy the routine and predictability of this type of role.
- Carpentry apprentice: Many of our clients have found work as apprentice carpenters with furniture makers and construction companies, after describing their love of cutting, shaping and finishing wood.
- Kitchen hand: This role is perfect for people who enjoy dishwashing and helping cooks with food preparation and storage. There is also room for flexibility with start times and many of these roles are part-time.
How can atWork Australia help?
atWork Australia is a Disability Employment Services provider, so we help people living with intellectual disability:
- Set your employment goals
- Understand the local job market
- Prepare a great CV
- Find a job – by contacting potential employers for you
- Keep a job – by helping your employer understand what help you need to do the job well
- On the job support
When you choose atWork Australia as your DES provider, we start delivering the services you need straight away. We work together to meet your goals with a truly individual approach, putting your needs front and centre. We are your Job Coach, your advocate and your partner as we find the right job for you.
atWork Australia offers Disability Employment Services from over 340 locations across Australia, so we’re likely to have a location close to you. You can choose to work with us from anywhere that best suits you.
We make sure that signing up with us isn’t a job in itself, and we make things as easy as possible for you throughout your job search journey. We have great flexibility in how we work together, including the ability to meet virtually, to make your job hunt as simple as possible.