More practical solutions are needed to close the disability employment gap, including employment and training schemes delivered by disability organisations, a report has said.
‘Closing the disability and employment gap’, published by the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), includes recommendations for government, employers and care providers to boost employment for disabled people.
The publication is a response to the recent green paper on work, health and disability, which VODG hopes will spark fresh dialogue between policy makers, disabled people, businesses and charities.
Despite a commitment to “aim to halve the disability employment gap” in the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto, the UK’s disability employment gap is around 32%. Less than half of disabled people are in work – 48% – compared to 80% of their non-disabled peers.
Around the UK, the report explains how VODG members and their partners deliver successful schemes to support more disabled people into work. Examples in the report reflect the experiences of disability support providers that employ disabled people, deliver supported employment programmes or run internship schemes.
The recommendations in the report include:
• Clarity from government on whether the new Work and Health Programme will include options such as supported internships
• An increase in specific support for disabled workers, including specialist job advisors and in-work job coaches
• Making supported employment a locally delivered national priority as many schemes are closing due to public sector cuts
• A focus by employers on specialised recruitment and retention, such as accessible adverts and interview processes.
Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of VODG, said: “The disability employment gap is unacceptable. For too long, the presumption has been that disabled people cannot or do not want to work and that the process of supporting people into work is costly and complex. When employment is a positive choice for disabled people it can help to improve health outcomes, wellbeing, social inclusion and life chances. The projects featured in our report are proof of this – if such work is replicated more widely, there will be a better chance that disabled people experience more equity in employment.”