A Leonard Cheshire Disability commissioned survey has revealed disabled young people may be held back from getting on the career ladder, going on to further education or work-based training.
The survey revealed that a failure to get support or encouragement at school led to problems gaining employment, furthering education, or training. In response, Leonard Cheshire Disability is launching their Untapped Talent campaign to ensure all people who want to work have the opportunity to do so.
Leonard Cheshire Disability CEO, Neil Heslop says: “With the right support we know that disabled people can thrive in workplaces, bringing a wealth of talent and experience that businesses and other organisations benefit from enormously. Often this only requires relatively small changes to equipment or adaptations, or some support getting to and from work.”
Over half of 18-30 year-old adults surveyed said their teachers may have had lower expectations of them because of their disability. Around half also said they were not encouraged to go on to a course or pursue their chosen career. At the age of 26, disabled people are nearly four times more likely to be unemployed.
Registered blind Glasgow University graduate Matthew Clark, 24, from Surrey, says: “Despite all efforts, I have never been able to secure paid work through a mainstream internship or job application process that was not run for the benefit of or concerned with equal opportunities for people with disabilities. I even felt the part-time or seasonal jobs associated with students were inaccessible and off limits to me.”
Leonard Cheshire believes a government pledge to close the employment gap between disabled people and others of working age is being undermined by a lack of vital help at critical stages in people’s lives.
More access to tailored programmes that address the obstacles experienced by disabled people is desperately needed. “Sadly, all too often disabled people are being unnecessarily locked out of opportunities because this is not there or being cut. This is a huge loss to the economy and has massive impact on people’s lives,” says Leonard Cheshire Disability’s CEO Neil Heslop.
“We urgently need to increase the availability of programmes that can help unlock the potential of disabled people. These need to be flexible enough to support people whether they are just starting out or are affected by disability later on in their lives.”
The government has pledged to get one million more disabled people into work but progress has been slow – meaning hundreds of thousands of disabled people who want to work are left on the sidelines.
To support young disabled people as the government works to better standards, Leonard Cheshire Disability are continuing to run a wide variety of award-winning employment and volunteer schemes to help disabled people gain new skills, gain confidence and move towards independence.
For more information on the Untapped Talent campaign visit the Leonard Cheshire website here.