People with a learning disability head to top UK companies for Learning Disabilities Work Experience Week

Learning Disabilities Work Experience WeekJust 7% of people with a learning disability are in paid employment

This week (w/c November 10) Mencap and Inclusive Employers are giving people with a learning disability the chance to undertake valuable work experience placements across some of the UK’s biggest employers.

Currently there are just 7% of people with a disability in paid employment. Despite this over the past 7 months Mencap have been able to support almost 300 people with a learning disability into paid employment, and many of these arose out of placements secured during last year’s Learning Disabilities Work Experience Week.

The Social Market Foundation estimates that raising disability employment to the national average would boost the UK economy by at least £13 billion. People with a disability have been proven to have low sickness rates and higher job satisfaction levels.

Since last year’s successful Learning Disabilities Work Experience Week a range of new companies have signed up to the 2014 event, which runs from 10 – 16 November. Companies who wish to sign up can visit the Mencap Work Experience Week page here.

Also this year employees can download a lobbying pack to send to their employer detailing the benefits of employing people with a learning disability and advice on how to become more inclusive in their employment strategies.

Andy, who has a learning disability and lives with his mum, Sheila, benefited from Mencap support to get his first job.

  • Andy’s mum, Sheila, recalls:

“He was out of work for nearly four years; it was terrible. He was getting more and more depressed – some days he couldn’t even get out of bed. He was failing to receive the support he needed despite me keep telling employers about his learning disability.

Luckily Sheila remembered Mencap had helped Andy get his first job and she supported him to get back in touch:

“It was such a relief to have someone finally listening. The change in Andy was almost instant. One minute he was a man with no hope, the next he was full of hope.”

Richard McKenna of Inclusive Employers said:

“Developing an inclusive and rewarding environment for all individuals is at the heart of everything we do. Inclusive Employers initiatives such as Learning Disabilities Work Experience Week allows us to make companies aware of the social and commercial benefit of employing people with a disability, and gives our members new perspectives on inclusion and opportunities to harness different talent. Working with Mencap has allowed us to create workplace cultures where all people are valued equally and where all people can add value.”

“We were delighted that Learning Disability Work Experience Week 2013 was so successful and we hope this yr will have greater impact.”

Mark Capper, Business Development Manager, at Mencap said:

“With only 7% of people with a learning disability in paid work, more must be done to help increase opportunities to develop work skills and aid with the progression into employment. People with a learning disability have an equal right to work as anyone else. The companies we have worked with realise this and are also beginning to realise that offering work placements to people with a learning disability does not only help the individual, but can be profitable for their business as well.”

Last year saw the first ever Learning Disabilities Work Experience Week which saw the likes of McDonald’s, the House of Commons, South West Trains, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Strudel Design and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service all receive industry awards in recognition of their inclusive employment strategies, and this year a new host of companies have signed up to the campaign.

  • After last year’s successful Learning Disabilities Work Experience Week a new host of companies seen the benefits of adopting an inclusive employment strategy and have signed up to the campaign.

Anna Chapman, at Land Securities said:

“We are very pleased to be offering placements during Work Experience Week as part of our partnership with Mencap and Enable Scotland. We are also thrilled that our supply chain partners are so keen to be involved too. Helping disadvantaged people into jobs not only helps the communities in which we operate, but also creates a more diverse, representative workforce which can serve our customers better.”

Katrina Tilbrook, Equality & Diversity Manager, Leeds Becket University and CommUNIty said:

“Leeds Beckett University is committed to providing fair and inclusive employment opportunities.  We are incredibly proud to be part of Learning Disability Work Experience Week 2014.  The campaign complements our CommUNity initiative, which promotes joint working between our university and community organisations with a view to help reduce inequalities and improve health and well-being within our community. Someone with a learning disability who Mencap supports will join our Equality & Diversity team for the week, attending advisory groups and meeting as well as providing administrative support. We look forward to future collaborations.”

Terry Eagle, a franchise holder at McDonalds said:

“Work experience is a great way for people to build confidence and get a taste of what working life is like.

“I currently employ more than 480 people across six restaurants in the South London area and our restaurants offer jobs with a culture of flexibility, opportunity, equality and development. Our customers come from all walks of life and it’s important to us that our employees do too. Providing equal opportunities for people from all backgrounds is key to our company ethos.”

About Inclusive Employers

Inclusive Employers is a membership organisation which, through campaigns, initiatives, training and consultancy helps employers develop an inclusive workplace, avoid the pitfalls of discrimination and maximize the potential of all employees in order be more successful. Find out more at www.inclusiveemployers.co.uk

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. Find out more at www.mencap.org.uk. For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk

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