Charity Mencap is highlighting the low levels of people with a learning disability in paid work and the need for employers to open up their recruitment practices.
Latest statistics show that there are less than 6% of adults with a learning disability known to social services are in paid employment.
People with a learning disability face many barriers when trying to find work, including:
- Complicated application forms
- Negative employer attitudes
- Regimented interview processes
- Lack of on-the-job training and recruitment opportunities
Given a chance, workers with a learning difficulty thrive
Mencap offers useful resources for employers outlining the benefits of having an inclusive workforce.
Schemes like DS Workfit have proved that once individuals with a learning difficulty are given an opportunity to get into paid employment, with the right support, they can and do thrive at work, often surpassing their employer’s expectations, with many of them gaining promotions and increased responsibilities – the biggest hurdle is getting past the recruitment obstacles to give them an opportunity to shine. Both DS Workfit and Mencap can help employers with awareness training and support.
Opening up apprenticeships to disabled workers
As part of the Government’s plans to make apprenticeships accessible, Mencap is welcoming plans to change the English and Maths requirements for people with a learning disability who have education, health and care plans. By ensuring people with a learning disability are able to access Apprenticeships, it will provide a route in to work better suited to people with a learning disability where they can demonstrate their skills.
Apprenticeships are a valued route in to employment, but less than 1% of apprentices declared a moderate learning disability in 2014/153. This is despite the fact that young people with a mild or moderate learning disability could and should benefit from an Apprenticeship.
Following a taskforce in 2016, led by Paul Maynard, which examined the issues faced by people with disabilities to access apprenticeships, the government is now pressing ahead to implement all the recommendations.
Jan Tregelles, chief executive of learning disability charity Mencap, said:
“The introduction of these plans are a welcome recognition from Government that people with a learning disability cannot be left behind when accessing such a vital and valuable route into work as an Apprenticeship.
“Lowering the Maths and English requirement for people with a learning disability on Apprenticeships could allow a whole new generation to experience the pride, joy and independence that employment can offer – something that just 5.8% of people with a learning disability currently do.
“We want to see the changes apply to all people with a learning disability, not just those with Education, Health and Care Plans, and look forward to working with Government to introduce this.”
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, David Gauke, said:
“People with a learning disability deserve the same opportunities that others have in every aspect of their lives, including in the workplace. Almost 600,000 disabled people have entered work in the last three years, and we must build on this progress.
“This week is a chance to celebrate people for their talent and potential, and it’s great that apprenticeships will offer more people with a learning disability a valuable route into employment.”