Launch of Learning Disability Work Experience Week 2015

mencap_logoWith the Government’s commitment to halving the disability employment gap and to launch Learning Disability Work Experience Week 2015, Mencap and Inclusive Employers have published the results of a survey of UK employers, showing the benefits and barriers of employing staff with a learning disability.

The survey of over 60 UK employers showed that:

  • Only 16% of respondents felt the government would be successful in halving the disability employment gap.
  • 23% of employers feel not all their colleagues would be happy working with somebody with a learning disability.
  • 79% agreed having disabled employees helps a company understand its disabled customers better.
  • Almost half (45%) of representatives  who have not employed somebody with a learning disability were concerned it might be more difficult for members of public da deal with members of staff with a learning disability. This drops to 30% who have employed staff with a learning disability.

There are just 7% of people with a learning disability in paid employment, compared to 46% of disabled people. Mencap are concerned that with changes to the benefits system, including a cut of £30 a week to cut ESA WRAG which half of disabled people say would mean they return to work later, the Government will fail to increase employment opportunities for people with a learning disability.

Learning Disability Work Experience Week was launched by the charity Mencap and Inclusive Employers two years ago to encourage employers to adopt more inclusive recruitment policies. Employers ranging from McDonald’s, the House of Commons, South West Trains, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Sainsbury’s have all been involved in the scheme.

Mark Capper, Head of Employment at Mencap, said:

“This survey exposes the nervousness some employers have when it comes to learning disability, but also how these nerves disappear for those that have employed staff with a learning disability.

“The fact that almost 80% felt that having a disabled employee helps a company understand its disabled customers better present a huge commercial benefit to organisations

“People with a learning disability represent an untapped source of labour constantly overlooked. With the Government’s desire to halve the disability employment gap there needs to be a far greater emphasis on how to remove the many barriers that exist for job seekers with a learning disability, and we hope the employers involved in Learning Disability Work Experience Week can convince others to think differently about who they look to for staff”

Richard McKenna, Director of Inclusive Employers, said:

“At Inclusive Employers, we aim to maximise business potential through inclusion. We understand that organisations who didn’t have much experience of working with people with learning disabilities may not know where to start, that’s why 3 years ago we approached Mencap about launching Learning Disability Work Experience. We are thrilled that this initiative is growing every year and that participants from previous years have been offered employment. We are looking forward to many more success stories from 2015!”   

Kelly Barlow, HR Director for South West Trains, said: 

“We are delighted to continue working with Mencap and supporting Learning Disability Work Experience Week.

“We will continue to offer jobs and placements to a wide range of people,including those who have a learning disability. With the right support and guidance in place throughout the organisation, any person can become a valued member of our team.”

Sharon Pike, who has a learning disability and was supported into employment by Mencap said: 

“I work 4 days a week at a care home for older people in South London. I love my job, it is very rewarding. I got the job with the help of Mencap’s Employment Services. I had been unemployed for a while but I wanted to come off jobseekers and be independent.

“Mencap helped me to get into care work by supporting me to complete an NVQ level 2 qualification in Health and Social Care. Mencap worked with the college to make sure the course was accessible and to make sure I had the support I needed for the course. While I was studying for the NVQ I got a placement at the care home.

“The placement went really well and when the Care Home needed more full-time staff I applied and got the job! I’ve now been working there for over 5 years and I love it! I want to take my NVQ Level 3 now and build my career for the future” 

Further results of the survey include:

  • 79% agreed that having a disabled employee helps a company to understand its disabled customers or clients.
  • 23% felt their colleagues would not be happy working with somebody with a learning disability.
  • 30% of respondents who have employed somebody with a learning disability and 45% who have not were concerned it might be more difficult for members of public to deal with members of staff with a learning disability.
  • Only 16% of respondents felt the government would be successful in halving the disability employment gap.
  • Almost half (46%) of representatives acknowledged that their organisation’s job descriptions, adverts and application forms are not easy for somebody with a learning disability to read and fill in
  • 46% worried there was extra work involved in recruiting and managing someone with a learning disability
  • 72% believed people with a learning disability are able to work in their workforce.

About Mencap 

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. www.mencap.org.uk

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