With recent statistics suggesting that 70% of jobs in New Zealand require a driver’s licence, Workbridge is urging employers to think carefully about whether a licence is absolutely necessary before advertising a vacancy.
Workbridge says it is delighted by the Government’s recently announced initiative to improve access to driver’s licence training and testing, believing it will be life-changing for many who have found it difficult to obtain a licence due to financial constraints.
But the largest New Zealand-owned employment agency assisting disabled people and others who face challenges gaining employment says that at a time when it is difficult for employers to recruit, they could inadvertently be missing out on great people if they impose unnecessary constraints on who can apply for a job.
“There are jobs where driving is a core function of the role, and of course a licence is essential for those,” says Jonathan Mosen, Workbridge’s Chief Executive.
“But we often see job ads saying a driver’s licence is essential, when all that is required is travel from point A to B, such as when visiting clients/customers. Sometimes, employers slip in a driver’s licence requirement because they think this will ensure that the employee will make it to work on time. In cases like these, a driver’s licence is the means, not the end. Requiring a licence focusses on how something is done rather than what is done or how well it is done. That’s an own goal for employers, because some capable, conscientious disabled people who can do the job are unable to drive due to their impairment.”
Mr Mosen, who is blind, says he has had to challenge this line of thinking in his own career.
“All my life, I’ve used public transport, taxis, ride share services and sometimes a roster of drivers to get around. I don’t turn up late to work any more than someone who occasionally gets stuck in traffic, and I have successfully occupied many roles where I need to make it on time to appointments. Where appropriate, Government assistance is available so employers aren’t out of pocket. Yet sometimes, with online application forms for jobs I know I could have done; I have been faced with a simple checkbox to confirm whether or not I have a driver’s licence, with no means to explain that while I don’t have one, there are other ways of achieving the objective. Unfortunately, my experience is far too common.”
Mr Mosen says that as is often the case, inclusive policies that make it easier for disabled people to participate benefit a much wider group. For example, because of financial or environmental considerations, some people choose not to drive, and this is an increasingly viable choice as public transport is set to improve.
“When we remove unnecessary barriers to a great employment partnership, we all win,” Mr Mosen concluded.
Jonathan Mosen, Workbridge