Call for Scottish Government to create employment opportunities for disabled people
Just 42% of disabled Scots are in employment – compared with 73% of the nation as a whole, a shocking new report reveals.
Disability Agenda Scotland (DAS) - an alliance of six leading disability charities in Scotland - says there are an estimated 284,300 disabled working-age people in the country - experiencing lower rates of employment and pay than the rest of society.
Its new report, Bridging the Gap, is calling for both the Scottish and UK governments to take action to narrow the employment gap by 2025.
DAS chair Delia Henry said: “While some disabled people are not able to work, for others being in work has both economic and social benefits. But they face barriers to entering the labour market – not just physical or related to their mental health - but also in terms of societal and employer attitudes.
“Employment rates have actually fallen among some groups, such as those living with sight loss, who now have an employment rate of 29%.”
Young people with disabilities fare particularly badly, says DAS. According to research, although half were in further education nine months after leaving school, by the time they were 26 they were four times more likely to be unemployed as their non-disabled peers.
DAS wants the Scottish Government to set ‘realistic but ambitious’ targets to close the employment gap; more resources to support those in work; and public sector organisations to lead by example in recruitment.
Employing more disabled people could be one criterion to assess businesses bidding for public sector contracts, it suggests.
More effort should also be made to reduce the number of people forced to leave their job due to a disability - Delia Henry
“There are opportunities posed by the devolution of key aspects of social security and employment support to do things differently in Scotland,” said Henry, “especially in terms of linking the new social security system with employment support.
“More effort should also be made to reduce the number of people forced to leave their job due to a disability – 83% of people with a disability acquire it while in work, while 400,000 people quit the UK workforce every year after developing a work-limiting condition.”
Improved careers advice and enhanced funding for young disabled people taking up college and modern apprenticeship places, is being recommended.
But DAS says it is ‘deeply concerned’ by the planned closures of JobCentres across the UK, particularly in Glasgow.
“This will impede people’s ability to access advice and support and will affect the most vulnerable the most,” Henry warned.