A charity is calling for a national campaign to promote the benefits of employing staff with learning disabilities as only 10% of adults are in work
A national campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of learning disabled employees is necessary to tackle shockingly high unemployment rates.
With just 7% of learning disabled adults in jobs in Scotland, a new report is calling for clear government action and funding.
The Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) employment task group has spent two years exploring the barriers that prevent adults with learning disabilities from finding and keeping jobs. It has found that when learning disabled adults are given an opportunity, they are very often are committed and loyal employees.
As a result, it has now published a report calling for a nation awareness raising campaign to overcome the low expectations held by parents, schools, colleges and employers.
It is also calling on the government to make better use of existing funding to tackle the issue.
With more than 90% out of work compared to 55% of people with other disabilities and 25% of the whole population, adults with learning disabilities are more likely to live in poverty. The report states more than half of adults with learning disabilities live in the 40% most deprived areas of Scotland.
Maura Lynch, SCLD depute chief executive said: “To truly overcome the barriers for people with learning disabilities, we need significant national awareness raising activity to challenge the attitudes that stop people with learning disabilities from progressing to sustainable employment.
“We need to better use existing resources, and that includes devolving the Access to Work fund to Scotland where it can be used more effectively.”
She added: “We know that when the right support is in place for the right candidate for the right job, then successful outcomes will be achieved for the employee and employer. We cannot wait while another generation of people with learning disabilities are denied the employment opportunities that could allow them to live healthier and more independent lives.”
Eddie McGinlay works as a kitchen porter at Haggs Castle Golf Club. He secured his position through a work trial, which he found more accessible and comfortable than an interview process.
The work trial was negotiated by his job coach at the Glasgow Supported Employment Service, who provided subsequent support. His employers have spoken positively of the experience, praising Eddie’s work ethic and punctuality, and would encourage other businesses to employ people with learning disabilities.
Eddie himself says: “I work really hard and enjoy myself. It helps me to buy stuff, do more socialising and meet my friends. These are things I couldn’t always do before. Having a job makes my life much easier."
The report also calls for a move towards only commissioning supported employment services that deliver employment outcomes of at least 50%, and Introducing nationally monitored standards for job coaches.
Scottish Government minister for business fair work and skills Jamie Hepburn said: “I welcome this report and thank the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) and the Task Group on Employment for their work to develop it.
“As the report rightly points out the disability employment gap is much more pronounced amongst those with learning disabilities than the general population. This report will inform the work we will take forward as part of the forthcoming Keys to Life refresh. We will consider the content carefully and respond early in 2019.”