Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Disability charity urges UK businesses to hire more people with SEND

A national charity is calling on UK businesses to use more inclusive recruitment processes to level the playing field for people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

As part of their employability campaign #InclusionRevolution, DFN Project SEARCH is urging businesses across the nation to recognise the social and economic value in employing young adults with SEND.

Hiring neurodiverse people is of benefit to employers

The campaign, which was launched in September, aims to support 10,000 young autistic adults and adults with learning disabilities into fulltime employment by 2030.

Since its launch, it has received strong public support and several MPs and have signed up to become #InclusionRevolution champions and endorse the campaign within their constituencies.

The campaign highlights that employing people with SEND is not just a matter of doing what is morally and socially correct, but it will be of benefit to employers. With many sectors struggling with a skills gap, Claire Cookson, CEO of DFN Project Search, says it makes simple business sense to start exploring the ocean of untapped talent.

The programme has a “transformative” effect on interns who take part

She said: “As a society we are low aiming for people with a learning disability because there is a fear factor among employers of getting it wrong in hiring young adults with SEND. We need to change that.

“There is a huge untapped talent pool of brilliant young neurodiverse people who will make some of the best employees, but just need the opportunity. Our experience shows that businesses will really benefit from their skills and talent as well as the huge positive social impact they will generate at a societal level.

“Our programme has a transformative effect on the interns who take part. Over 1,900 of our interns are now employed, with 60% of them achieving full-time permanent roles, compared to the 5.1% average in England.”

Charity seeking supported employer champions

In partnership with the Government’s Disability Confident scheme, the charity also aims to secure a minimum of 800 supported internship employer champions across the UK in various sectors by March 2025.

These employer champions will be responsible for actively promoting a diverse, supportive and inclusive workplace culture for adults with a learning disability or autism spectrum condition or both.

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