Hannah and the team at Breaking Grounds in Tuggerah
February 19, 2024
by Joshua Cook

What is the Difference Between DES and SLES?

Acronyms can be confusing at the best of times, and when it comes to looking for work, it can seem like they’re everywhere! New ones keep popping up and it’s hard to keep track of them all, let alone understand what they actually mean. For young people leaving school, or anyone with a disability looking for work, there’s already enough going on— so let us break down the difference between DES and SLES and help you move forward in your career. 

This article explains what DES is, what SLES is, and their similarities and differences. For personalised advice, contact our team at Breakthru today. 

What Is DES?

DES stands for Disability Employment Services. This service aims to help people with a disability prepare for employment, and then look for a job that suits them. It is designed for anyone of minimum legal employment age and above. If and when the person finds suitable employment and is hired, DES also helps that person to maintain their employment into the future. 

DES is a dedicated job seeking support and sits outside of the NDIS. This means that people without NDIS plans can access DES, providing they still meet the eligibility requirements.

What Can DES Do?

DES operates by working with a person to identify their need for support in finding and keeping a job. The intended outcome of DES is to place people in paid employment in a job that is sustainable and suitable for them and their individual needs. Examples of pathways that lead to this may include: 

  • The participant’s job plan
  • Activities to address barriers to employment
  • Assistance to address barriers to employment
  • Job searching
  • Job-site training
  • Work placement
  • Post-placement support in a paid job
  • Ongoing support to maintain a paid job, if required

Ongoing employment supports, if needed, are covered under the DES program.

DES consultants provide tangible support by finding suitable jobs for individuals, but they may also provide other support. This can include assistance in areas such as confidence building and assistance in paying for and obtaining licenses needed to work in specific areas, for example, blue cards and white cards. 

What Is SLES?

SLES stands for School Leaver Employment Supports. This service is designed for people with NDIS plans who are about to finish year 12, or who have recently finished school. It is an early intervention approach for recent or soon-to-be school leavers with a significant disability and aims to support their transition from school to work. 

SLES is only available to participants with an NDIS plan that also have an employment-related goal as part of this plan. Often, SLES is a pathway to DES and many participants will later transition from SLES and into DES.

What Can SLES Do?

SLES aims to build the confidence and skills needed to transition into a real-world working environment. This may be worked on through:

  • Work experience
  • Overcoming barriers
  • Building self-esteem and confidence
  • Developing a working lifestyle
  • Gaining life skills to support the transition to work
  • Job trials
  • Mock interviews
  • Understanding what it means to have a job and the responsibilities it entails
  • Learning what employers may expect
  • Developing long-term job goals
  • Linking with a DES service when the person is ready

This also includes developing key skills needed before searching for a job, such as assisting with: 

  • Budgeting
  • Catching public transport
  • Learning how to communicate in the workplace

What Are The Differences Between DES And SLES?

The main point of difference between the two is that SLES is an early intervention support for NDIS participants, and is designed for people who are about to leave school or who have just finished school. SLES has a stronger focus on pre-employment skills and building an individuals capacity, as opposed to immediately finding paid employment.

DES on the other hand is more tailored toward people with a disability who are ready to look for work. It’s also important to note that eligibility for DES does not require and NDIS plan, as opposed to SLES. Ultimately, they both aim to support people's transition into sustainable work. 

Looking For Employment Assistance?

The goal of both DES and SLES is to help people become work ready and get a job that suits them and their individual circumstances. At Breakthru, we’re dedicated to helping people achieve their goals, including finding and enjoying sustainable employment. If you or a loved one are looking for a new employment services provider, we’re here to help.

With over 25 years of experience helping people find the right jobs for them, we’d love you to be the next person we help. To find out more, contact our team today. 

About the author

Joshua Cook

Holding dual degrees in Business Marketing and Commerce Accounting, Josh brings more than half a decade of experience to his role as National Marketing Manager at Breakthru, based in Brisbane, Queensland. His life's journey has uniquely equipped him to serve in this vital position. Raised alongside his younger sister Katey, who has Down Syndrome, Josh has gained an intimate understanding of the challenges and societal stigmas associated with disabilities. This personal connection fuels his commitment to the mission of Breakthru - to empower individuals like Katey to access the resources and support they require to live fulfilling lives. Through his role at Breakthru, Josh aims to break down the barriers and dismantle the misconceptions that often surround people with disabilities.

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