Using Skills Recognition to assist employees with disabilities

Assessing and recognising prior learning is an important tool for workers who have health issues or disability because they may face barriers to having their skills, knowledge and experience recognised.

Skills recognition strategies can assist people with physical disabilities undergoing employment transition to identify transferable skills. 

• A person with a learning disability may need additional time for some types of assessments. Unless speed is an essential element of competence, there should be no concern over extended time frames.

• A person with a sensory impairment may need additional lighting, translation or adaptive technology

• A learner with an intellectual disability may be uncomfortable being assessed in an unfamiliar environment. Therefore, it is appropriate for the assessment to occur where the learner is familiar, either at their workplace or their usual training venue.

• A person with mental health issues may experience overwhelming distress in assessment or ‘test’ situations. This can be alleviated by providing opportunities for self-assessment or peer assessment in advance of the formal assessment situation. Using peer assessment is another good approach with an extended time frame for the assessment.

• A person with one of the autism spectrum range of disorders (including Asperger’s syndrome, autism) may be extremely competent in specific areas, such as data analysis or programming, but they maybe unable to understand complex social or imaginary situations. Assessment using role plays or hypothetical scenarios may confuse them so a picture of a situation, a series of questions or a hands on demonstration of their technical will be a more appropriate assessment task.

• A person with a physical impairment may not be able to physically undertake a certain activity but they may be able to direct someone else to do so. In some cases this will meet the requirements of the unit of competency or what is being assessed through the SR process. This could be the case where supervisors or mentors or managers need to know how to do something but do not have to physically do it.

(From Robertson, Sclanders, Zed, & Donaldson, 2004, Working with diversity: Quality training for people with a disability, ANTA, Brisbane)


There is a national network of community and private organisations engaged as employment service providers to help place people with disability into employment.

The following employment services are able to work with you, providing assistance with the recruitment of people with disability, and supporting employees at work:

Disability Employment Services

Job Services Australia

If you require advice or support in retaining a current employee with disability then specific employer supports are available through the Disability Employment Services.