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This report outlines why employment-focused social enterprises offer an alternative people-centred approach to mainstream employment solutions. Far more than just being a different way to do business, employment-focused social enterprises can build capacity and create positive impacts for the people they aim to help, as well as society as a whole.

The unemployment rate for the general population has declined in recent years. However, there is a growing number of Australians struggling to find and maintain meaningful employment. They experience complex barriers to participation, requiring more tailored and personalised employment support services.

Research suggests that employment-focused social enterprises are an alternative solution. They have been found to produce higher and better employment outcomes than mainstream employment services for people experiencing significant disadvantage.

Key findings:

Research shows that employment-focused social enterprises provide many benefits:

To the individual:

  • Improving people’s lives and livelihoods, while directly reducing the costs of welfare, health, and housing services.
  • Addressing some of the gaps in our current employment and employment services systems, by providing people-centred work settings, tailored solutions and sustainable service delivery models.
  • Producing better employment outcomes than mainstream employment services for people experiencing significant disadvantage.
  • According to some evidence, producing intergenerational benefits by improving quality of life for households.

To the broader community and the Australian economy:

  • Employment-focused social enterprises can be as efficient and more productive than their commercial counterparts.
  • Improving workforce participation reduces disadvantage, increases our national potential for innovation, and creates billions in improved productivity for Australia.
  • Employment-focused social enterprise can be a sustainable business model, providing employment pathways that reduce reliance on government and philanthropic funding.


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