Disability barrier to work: ABS

Monday, 06 February, 2006

Disability and a lack of training were among the most common barriers preventing people from working or working extra hours, according to new analysis released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recently.

The ABS estimated 6.3 million people had the potential, but not necessarily the desire, to fully participate in the workforce. These were people who were either unemployed, working less than 16 hours a week or who were not in the labour force. The survey found almost three-quarters (72% or 4.5 million people) of these people did not want to work or did not want to work additional hours.

However, 28% (1.8 million people) did want to work or work extra hours but faced a range of barriers to achieving this. Of these people:

19% (348,500 people) would have preferred to work or work more hours, but were not available to start within four weeks. The main barrier for men in this group was 'long-term sickness or disability', while the most common barrier for women was 'child care, pregnancy or home duties'.

35% (627,000 people) were seeking a job or extra working hours and could start work within four weeks. The most common difficulty these people had in finding work was that they 'lacked the necessary training, qualifications and experience' (17% said this was their main difficulty). These were mostly people who did not have university, TAFE or other non-school qualifications.

Out of the 4.5 million people who did not want to work or work extra hours:

86% (3.9 million people) were not part of the labour force. Three common reasons these people gave for not wanting a job were permanent retirement (32% of people said that this was one of the reasons they didn't want work), 'no need/retired for now' (30%) and 'long-term sickness or disability' (22%).

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