ACT News

Jobless struggle inspires new business to help disabled find work

Jessica May knows from personal experience how hard it can be for people with disabilities to find suitable employment. 

"I've had anxiety for a very long time, but after I had my daughter, it got really quite bad and I was facing lots of issues about going back to work," she said. 

Jessica May who started Enabled Employment
Jessica May who started Enabled Employment 

Mrs May said she was skilled and had a good work history and thought it would be easy to find employment that allowed her to work from home.

"I went looking and looking and looking and I just couldn't find anything that was the model I was thinking," she said. 

Mrs May saw a gap in the market and decided to start Enabled Employment, an online employment agency connecting people with disabilities to employment opportunities to work from home.

Enabled Employment, which was officially launched on Thursday, has already registered 150 employees and 23 employers and successfully placed 13 people in jobs. 

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"It's an online marketplace for employees with a disability who want to work from home to be matched up with employers who are offering remote work opportunities," Mrs May said. 

"We're really about removing all the barriers for employers to employ someone with a disability."

The ACT government gave Mrs May an Innovation Connect grant in 2012-13 to help her set up the business. 

Disability Minister Joy Burch said teleworking was a great option for people who may not be able to physically get into an office but have professional skills to contribute.

"With one in five Australians experiencing disability, this is a great opportunity for employers to embrace alternative recruitment practices to tap into this skilled and available workforce," she said. 

Mrs May believes Enabled Employment is having a hugely positive impact on the lives of people with disability eager to participate in the workforce.

"It's really changing people's lives," she said. 

"We had one lady who has had 104 job interviews this year but because she's blind, as soon as she goes in, they're like 'we don't think we can accommodate that' but she's highly skilled and wants to work from home.

"We've got another lady who has a PhD in computational mathematics with chronic fatigue, she was a lecturer and now she's doing investigations and blog writing for a technology company." 

Mrs May said every Enabled Employment worker had a disability and they all worked from home regularly. She said starting the company had also had an enormously positive impact on her own life. 

"It's been amazing and also to put my skills into practice because I was just being so under-utilised once I found out I had a disability," she said.

"My mental health is 100 per cent better because I'm engaged and doing something."