Spotlight Series: Get Skilled Access

the Field’s Spotlight Series puts the focus on our community, the stories that make us all unique, and the different experiences we all have when it comes to work.

Taking a slightly different angle on our Spotlight Series this month, we wanted to let you know more about the organisation that made the Field happen: Get Skilled Access (GSA).

GSA are a disability inclusion consultancy who were founded in 2016. They work closely with government and organisations across all industries to improve disability inclusion and accessibility. With 85% of the team identifying as having disability or lived connection to disability, GSA brings real life disability experience and expertise to everything it does.

To find out more about GSA and the Field’s origins, we chatted to Zack Alcott. He is a Principal Consultant at GSA, and one of the people who has been with the organisation from day one.

the Field:

Hi, Zack! For those who haven’t heard about Get Skilled Access, how did the organisation come about and what are some of its key services?

Zack:

Get Skilled Access began almost seven years ago when my brother Dylan approached my father and I wanting to change the way disability was viewed. He wanted to move the conversation away from focusing on the disability rather than the person, and take a more modern, person-first approach, focused on removing barriers. Dylan was also keen to shift away from well meaning, non-disabled people speaking to other non-disabled people about what people with disability want and need. It was from here that GSA was born to constructively challenge old attitudes and biases.

In terms of services, GSA is a for-profit consulting organisation. We work with both government and private organisations to help them better understand all forms of access and inclusion. That could be from an employment, customer service, community engagement or stakeholder engagement standpoint. We do that through training, consulting, policy advising, content development, web accessibility, workplace culture reviews and workplace assessments.

the Field:

You’ve been at GSA from the start – how has it changed between 2016 and now?

Zack:

It’s been a wild ride since the launch of GSA in 2016. When we first started GSA, our focus was on customer service and frontline staff training. Within the first 6 months we were consulting with government on employment and culture. It’s just really going from strength to strength since then.

When we first started, Dylan said to me, “mate if GSA can make flying and shopping at supermarkets a better experience for people with disability, I’ll be happy”. Now we work with airlines, supermarkets and across a wide range of industries, and we’re only growing.

the Field:

How do you think organisations have changed across that time as well, in terms of attitude and approach to disability?

Zack:

When GSA first began, more often than not organisations approached disability in terms of physical access, with accessibility sitting with the OH&S or building access teams. Since then, disability inclusion has become more of an organisation’s broader Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. It’s evolved to focus on the end to end experience of a person with disability in an organisation. Organisations are now really understanding that we need to have both access and inclusion – it shouldn’t be one or the other.

the Field:

What are some of the most common challenges you find when you go into organisations that want to be inclusive of disability? And how does GSA problem solve those challenges?

Zack:

No two businesses are the same, but two key themes would be: companies not having the confidence to talk about disability, and not having the knowledge about how to be inclusive. Organisations often don’t know where or how to start when it comes to improving the experience for people with disability. This fear and not knowing often means organisations don’t act at all. So GSA works with organisations by calling them in, not calling them out. We identify key challenges, and work together to build and implement a plan towards disability inclusion.

A man with low vision presenting in front of a large screen that says "Get Skilled Access".

the Field:

People may not know, but the Field was born out of an idea from Get Skilled Access. So tell me about that process – what made the Field a necessary next step?

Zack:

the Field is a really important part of the work that we do. We had been working with organisations and governments for close to five years, and we came up with the Field as the missing piece of the employment puzzle, connecting organisations and people with disability. Through the work we had been doing with our clients, one key challenge kept coming up, which was that organisations were struggling to connect with and employ more people with disability. On the other side, we were also hearing from people with disability who wanted to get out there and work, but couldn’t find the right way to apply for roles, or had lost trust in mainstream recruitment practices and processes.

So we came up with the Field to connect organisations with people with disability. It was also so people with disability could feel really confident that they could apply for a role without worrying about barriers – just be able to go in and be their best selves.

the Field:

Digging into that a little further, when you’re building a new job site, you can do anything – what went into the process of deciding which features went into the Field?

Zack:

First and foremost, the whole build has been led by people with disability with the goal of creating an accessible and inclusive job site. We ran focus group sessions and engaged with people with disability and employers to understand the employment barriers, and also what would make a difference when advertising or applying for a role. We prioritised features that increase accessibility and removed commonly experienced barriers to employment.

the Field:

You’ve led in perfectly to my next question. From a values perspective, GSA lives the saying “nothing about us, without us”. Why is it important to include the perspectives of people with disability within GSA and employment more broadly, as people and organisations work to be more inclusive?

Zack:

GSA has a saying that “if you’re going to talk about disability, there needs to be someone with disability at the table and part of the conversation”. And that’s been a real throughline of ours. It’s important to speak to as many different voices of people with disability as possible because no two experiences of disability are the same. When we work with clients, we want to make sure that what we’re doing is reflective of the entire disability community.

the Field:

Lastly, in your view, what’s the best way for organisations who don’t know where to begin to get started hiring inclusively? 

Zack:

The advice we give our clients when we first start working with them, is to spend time understanding where your organisation’s at, and get advice from people with disability who work in the space to come up with a plan to improve. There are of course organisations like GSA that can support you to get started, or help your organisation to  progress. Most importantly, not everything needs to be perfect. Everyone is going to make mistakes and that’s okay. Positive change is about being authentic and transparent about what you want to achieve.

To learn more about Get Skilled Access, you can find more information on their website. You can also apply to work at GSA via the Field today!

 

You can find our first Spotlight Series on Santi Martinez here. We also have tonne of great blogs for you to check out today. 

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