A renewed focus is being put on helping people living with a disability stay in jobs and progress their careers, amid hopes a fresh approach will change attitudes of employers.
Coles Group, Compass Group, Kmart and Target Group and Woolworths have signed up for a $3.3 million federal government careers pathway pilot program.
The unemployment rate for people with a disability is higher than average and hasn't shifted for more than three decades.
More than 90 per cent of working-age people with a disability report difficulty finding jobs, with employer perceptions about their limitations and a lack of suitable work being major impediments.
About the same percentage say they don't need extra help to take up the job, just for employers to change attitude.
The pilot aimed to ensure they had the same career progression opportunity as everyone else, Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said.
“This program will allow employers to support people with disability advance their careers and become future leaders, as well as build disability-inclusive workplace cultures and demonstrate safe and supportive working environments," she said on Wednesday.
The Business Council of Australia said boosting the employment of people with a disability could add $50 billion to the nation's GDP by 2050.
“We need a concerted effort to drive change from job design through to recruitment and move from entry-level jobs to advanced and executive roles," chief executive Bran Black said.
The Australian Network on Disability will work with the four employers to design, implement and oversee the program.
“We need to address the critical shortage of people with disability in leadership roles in Australia and the absence of people with disability on company boards,” the network's strategy head Amber O’Shea said.
The program will have six key components, including building the capabilities of employers, employees, mid-level managers and senior management.
It will also try to better understand the barriers people with a disability face when trying to get a job and provide educational material for employers.
The pilot, scheduled to run until February 2025, will initially support more than 80 people before expanding.