More job opportunities are being taken up by workers with disabilities, but latest research indicates barriers still exist for them in the workforce.
Warrnambool-based disability employment agencies have experienced an uptick in the rate of clients finding work with the region's reopening economy and lack of international travellers cited for its success.
Axis Employment regional manager Emmalee Quinlan said there has been an increase in employers reaching out to her service to find workers in the post-peak pandemic months.
"It definitely has added to the success of our service," Ms Quinlan said.
"The increase in job vacancy rate has really enabled us to go out and work closely with employers in the community to tailor positions that best suit skills and the abilities of our clients."
Ms Quinlan said the most common industries which contacted Axis Employment included hospitality, cleaning, aged-care and disability support.
WDEA Works business development officer Sharon Lilley said the reduction in international migration and temporary workers had also been a boon for disability employment services.
"We found that the closure of international borders opened some employment opportunities that were previously filled by backpackers or international workers," Ms Lilley said.
"The slower pace of life also allowed job seekers the time and space they need to settle into a new role and find their confidence and self-belief."
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Although the job vacancy rate has gone up over 74 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels, a report from Advanced Personnel Management Group looking into disability, diversity and inclusivity in the workplace found the pandemic had exacerbated underemployment of people with disabilities.
According the group's research, 41 per cent of workers with disabilities were underemployed.
Almost half of those working in retail were underemployed at 48 per cent, and 44 per cent in accommodation and food services required or wanted more work.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data also showed younger workers with disabilities, those aged 15 to 24, were more likely to be underemployed at 23 per cent compared to those aged 25 to 64 at 8.1 per cent.
This compared to 17.1 per cent for able-bodied people in the younger age group and 4.9 per cent in the older cohort.
Ms Quinlan said demand from her clients for more stable work had prompted her agency to work with businesses to create roles they might not have had before.
"There is a lot more interest in finding long-term and sustainable employment," she said.
"Sometimes we have to look at creating jobs and thinking outside the square."
APM has also designed annual scores out of 100 measuring culture, accessibility and career equity for workers with disabilities across the country.
This year's score of 57.2 was higher than 2021 at 56.2, but lower than 2020 at 57.6.
APM Group chief executive officer Michael Anghie said 2022's score highlighted there was still "a long way to go".
"It is pleasing to see the growing number of Australian employers being open to hiring people with disability, injury or illness - 78 per cent," he said.
"We, of course, won't be satisfied until these numbers reach 100 per cent, and will continue to create pathways to enable better lives for all those living with disability or in disadvantage."
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