At the carecareers Careers Centre, we normally recommend to callers that they need to have a current first aid certificate and a driver’s licence to start out in the disability and community care sector.For most callers, the driver’s licence is a given, though they may have concerns about where to acquire a first aid certificate. Occasionally, we will speak to someone who doesn’t have a driver’s licence, but is experienced in related fields and presents other essential qualities. What then? Viv began work in disability support and mental health in 2005 at nineteen. Starting out as a Teacher’s Aide working in a school for specific purposes, Viv found work in respite care and as a Support Worker, acquiring qualifications through training provided by his employers (first aid, travel training, tube feeding, professional assault response training and so on). Developing a specialty in autism and Asperger’s syndrome, it became apparent very quickly to Viv that this was a field that he wished to remain in long term, and so in 2010 he started a degree in social work to further his career. Viv does not drive and has never had a driver’s licence. “While many other workers are surprised that I have had a long career in respite without a licence, it has not been a real issue. I have to admit that when I interviewed for my current position I expressed an intention to gain my licence. Once I began working, the issue fell by the wayside as the shifts I worked were based around promoting our clients’ independence on public transport, or working with large groups where only one driver was required.” Making a move into the disability and community care sector without a licence will inevitably be a challenge. “I have applied for four positions in the last four months, and while I have sufficient experience in the field, all these applications were unsuccessful as I do not have a driver’s licence,” says Viv. “To add to this, workers are required to pay for comprehensive insurance to be allowed to drive on shift. As a male under the age of thirty who works part time around commitments to university, there is not a chance I could afford such an expense. This initial expense seems a real barrier for young people looking to get into the industry, and this sector increasingly relies on young, casual, and enthusiastic workers, and it seems unrealistic to expect this segment of the workforce to have full licences and the means to pay for comprehensive insurance.” Challenging, however, is not impossible.
Making applications without a driver’s licence will require a little bit of extra research. If you’re very new to the sector, it may be worth doing some volunteering to boost your experience before making your first application. Find out as much as you can about the role for which you are applying; the potential employer will be impressed that you’ve taken the time to read and think about the position. Answer the selection criteria thoroughly, and come up with a plan when addressing the driver’s licence criterion. Do you have plans to get your driver’s licence? Will public transport be easy and affordable for you in travelling to and from work? Indicate your plan in your cover letter in your claim against the selection criteria. Employers will want to know that you are self-reliant, flexible and reliable, make sure they know that you are.