Today’s employment figures hide the urgent need to get people with a learning disability into work

mencap-logo3 year decrease in employment figures for people with a learning disability

Today the Office for National Statistics announced employment figures showing a growth in the number of people employed in Britain. However figures recently released have shown a 3 year decrease in the number of people with a learning disability in employment.

There has been a decrease from 7.1% in 2012 to 6.0% in 2015 of people with a learning disability in employment known to English councils.

As part of Learning Disability Work Experience Week (9 Nov 13 Nov) and to push forward the Government’s commitment to halving the disability employment gap Mencap want to highlight the barriers that prevent people with a learning disability from finding work.

Mencap recently ran a survey of UK employers with the results shown below and in full at the bottom of this release:

  • 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
  • 79% agreed that having a disabled employee helps a company to understand its disabled customers or clients.
  • 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.

Mark Capper, Head of Employer Engagement at Mencap said:

“Although we are pleased that employment figures are improving we still need to see urgent action as to how the government will meet its commitment of halving the disability employment gap. There are just 6% of people with a learning disability who are in paid work. Barriers such as the attitudes of employers to government initiatives that fail to understand the support people with a learning disability need to gain jobs are preventing many people who are capable of work from gaining employment.

“If we are ever going to ensure people with a learning disability experience the independence, pride and freedom that comes with having a job, we need employers, the Government and representative organisations to come together and acknowledge the valuable contribution those with a learning disability can make to our economy.”

Ciara Lawrence who has a learning disability and struggled to find employment said: 

“I’m one of just 6 per cent of people with a learning disability to have a job. I had lots of interviews before I got my job with Mencap. All I wanted to do was to earn my own money and be independent like anyone else.

“There are too many barriers that stop people with a learning disability getting a job, such as staff at Job Centre’s not understanding about learning disability and employers not realising what someone with a learning disability can do. The Government needs to understand the challenges people with a learning face and help break down these barriers and not add to them by making it harder to get the support they rely on from benefits.”

Barriers to employment for people with a learning disability

  • Lack of in-work support
  • Attitudes of employers that people with a learning disability can only do menial tasks.
  • Government disability employment programmes do not meet the needs of people with a learning disability.
  • Welfare system that strips benefits if you earn even a small amount, trapping pwld in poverty.

Benefits of employing people with a learning disability

  • Tend to stay in roles for longer periods of time.
  • 77 per cent of members of the public think more highly of organisations that employ people with a disability.
  • Commercial benefit of widening your customer base to the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK.

The survey of over 60 employers showed:

  • 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.
  • 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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