Over six million people of working age in the UK have a disability, yet in 2015 the employment rate among disabled people stood at 46.7 per cent, compared with 80.3 per cent for those without a disability.
Justin Tomlinson, minister for the disabled, is urging businesses to go further to help reach his ‘ambitious target’ of halving this employment gap and bringing more than one million people into work by the end of this parliament.
In order to do so, an extra 1.2 million disabled people would have to be brought into employment.
Mr Tomlinson stated that just offering disabled people work experience was not enough as they need to have meaningful and sustainable careers.
“The UK is almost at full employment, and so businesses need to wake up to the fact that there is this pool of talent waiting to be tapped into,” he commented.
Although the government’s Access to Work scheme faced tough criticism by the media, the minister claimed that it was simply designed to “support both employer and staff member in work. It covers the costs of removing the barriers to getting disabled people into work.”
After the Equality and Human Rights Commission recently released a report that claimed only 0.3 per cent of apprentices are disabled, the disability minister believes that reforming the apprenticeship system is the best place to start.
He claimed that apprenticeships need to better support disabled people into supported work by training disabled people in areas which are experiencing a skills shortage.
Support in employment
Some 83 per cent of disabled people acquire a disability while working, so encouraging the transition back into a working environment is just as important.
Jules Lockett, practice learning manager at London Ambulance Service, told the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD): “It is absolutely crucial to keep in contact with colleagues and work. When you’re off sick, you have a need, and a want, to know what is happening.
“While your doctor might be advising you to take a break, rest - it makes you feel ‘normal’ getting the odd email from work. And makes the transition back so much easier.”
Both support from colleagues and senior members at work is important here. Someone to relate to safely and securely, but also having access to trained, professional help can make a huge difference.
Unfortunately, the legislation which requires all employers to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace can deter many employers from recruiting and retaining disabled talent. They are perceived as expensive, complicated and require more training and resources.
Head of diversity and inclusion at the House of Commons, Anne Foster, claims that the Parliamentary Role Models campaign aims to break down barriers to progression by giving diverse candidates a sense that their ambitions can be achieved.
“People often don’t want to be thrust into a role model position; it has to be natural and evolve naturally. And you don’t have to have a disability to be a disability role model,” she said.
Posted by Jon Aspinell on 28th April 2016
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