Unfortunately I am often out of sync with my peers and betters.
Wage subsidy and the promotion of wage subsidies as a method to increase the employment of people (and I include people with disability) would be an example of such.
Before I press on – have you ever come with a subsidy? I have not and therefore it occurs to me that I lack the experience to be able to offer valid first hand comment – nevertheless, in the 36 years I have contributed taxes, and for any and each employer that has paid me, I have never attracted a subsidy.
I just got paid, and I hope sincerely that I have always earned sufficient to enable my employer to profit from that work. Because that the way it works: I employ you, pay you $10 and you make me, or save me, more than that.
So why a subsidy?
My opinion (and that’s what this blog is about) is that this comes from a philosophical stance: that the recipient is not deemed to be of sufficient worth to allow for the relationship that I have described. In relation to the employment of people that have a disability I find this concept particularly troubling – surely, if such a person is going to be able to escape the misconception that they are a burden or of less value than their non disabled peers (perceptions that create what Wolfensberger describes as ‘wounding’ experiences) then surely a subsidy risks devaluation of individual worth?
Many years ago and in a rush of ill considered enthusiasm (and possibly less faith or experience with my products value) I became caught up with a scheme that offered employers $7,000 to hire from a range of disadvantaged groups.
A much wiser Penrith business owner pulled me up: “Son, I don’t care if you give me $70,000, if the bastard can’t do the job he ain’t worth having here” And he was right.
The issue centres on ability – and if NOVA candidates have or can develop the ability to create the equation described above (make their boss a profit) than they will gain and retain employment.
Subsidies have only a minor effect upon the creation of opportunity (at least in every study I have read) and perpetuate an inaccurate perception of validity or worth about disadvantaged employees and can be particularly demeaning and damaging to their recipients.
That's not to say that NOVA never uses wage subsidy - sadly an environment has created in which some employers pretty much demand government cash. However, I am proud of the fact that we rarely* resort to this approach, preferring to market on individual ability and our own post placement support as the offset for any initial productivity issues.
Personally, I remain staunchly opposed.
* 6 NOVA outlets have not used a subsidy in the past 12 months , 6 have used subsidies twice or less.
(Whoops! – Don’t Google ‘subsidy’ – you get a rival DES provider! )
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