Just 6% of people with a learning disability are in employment – it’s time for change

Learning Disability charity Mencap has published new research giving evidence for the business case for employing staff with a learning disability.

The charity is using Learning Disability Week (19-25 June) to improve employment prospects for people with a learning disability

Just 6% of people with a learning disability are “known to social services” as being in employment. A figure that’s only decreasing. This is shockingly low compared to the general population, where 75% are in work.

Mencap are calling on employers to recognise the benefits of working with people with a learning disability. The report, ‘A systematic review of the literature on the benefits for employers of employing people with learning disabilities’, has collated evidence which shows what a person with a learning disability can bring to the workplace.

This includes the fact that people with a learning disability stay in work longer, are off sick less, are reliable timekeepers, loyal to the company and boost staff morale.

Charlotte Aspley has a learning disability and works as a customer assistant at Tesco Lichfield. She said: “I feel companies should take on more people with learning disabilities. I don’t think companies consider us enough for jobs and it would benefit the company and also the young people working for them. I’ve benefited so much from my job, It’s made me such a different person by having a job, I’ve got better social skills and a great social life and I’ve learnt so much from being at work.”

David Harmon, general store manager at Charlotte’s Tesco store, said: “It’s important that businesses like Tesco reflect the society that they serve. Charlotte is a customer assistant on the checkout but also gets involved across other areas of the store. She is a reliable, helpful, friendly and proactive colleague that customers love. There are people out there with great personalities who have loads to offer businesses but might be struggling to find work. Colleagues like Charlotte demonstrate that when an opportunity is given people can become fantastic team members.”

Mencap have taken the report’s findings to put together information for employers, and people with a learning disability, to make the employment process easier.

Mark Capper, Head of Employer Engagement at learning disability charity Mencap, said: “Employer attitudes are one of the biggest barriers that people with a learning disability face when trying to get in to work. There’s often the presumption that people with a learning disability are unable to be a productive member of staff and will cost the business money in extra support. This research proves the opposite to be true.

“With the right support and the right role, people with a learning disability can be valued members of any workforce – the hundreds of employers we’ve worked with tell us exactly that. We hope that by being able to show employers how having someone with a learning disability actually improves company reputation, can save time and money and boosts overall staff morale, we can encourage them to think differently about taking on staff with a learning disability.”

Find out more about Mencap’s Learning Disability Week campaign here.

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