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Disabled people and employability - much more needs to be done


Michael McEwan on the fight for disability equality in employment

There has been some progression in modern times of representation and equality for people with a disability, but one major hurdle remains - getting into employment.

There are a number of good employment support organisations who tirelessly campaign for disability equality in education and employment.

Values Into Action Scotland, Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities and many partner organisations currently run an annual event called Young Scotland's Got Talent (YSGT).

Since its inception in 2010 the event has brought together all the relevant agencies who give advice on employment, holding fun workshops showcasing the talent of young people with a learning disability or autism introducing them to interesting jobs and also inviting keynote speakers from different industry sectors.

Michael McEwan

These events are necessary to promote employability, but in a more equal society, we wouldn't need to have this platform

Michael McEwan

The event centres on a catwalk with a difference, as people with learning disabilities strut their stuff in work uniform.

In past years YSGT has been a national roadshow into different towns and cities, to highlight issues and try to break down some barriers into employment.

Scheduled events this year were quickly postponed with the rapid onset of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

With new technology such as Zoom coming to the forefront of 2020 life, some of the event was moved to a fully online platform, and topically focussed on young people with a disability currently working on the frontline.

During the event a total of 36 visitors attended the virtual showcase, which was presented and coordinated by a cross teams from the different organisations who make these events a yearly success.

Apart from creating a fun space, information and atmosphere for young people and their families to help them to get jobs, the main focus is to look at the talent, not the disability. This is an avoidable label which should never be a consideration over ability for a role.

In Scotland in 2020, approximately nine in 10 of the general population have jobs - not so for people with learning disabilities and individuals on the autistic spectrum, where only 4.1 people in 100 are in employment, with just 1.6 in 100 people in jobs of 16 hours or more.

These events are necessary to promote employability, but in a more equal society, we wouldn't need to have this platform. We still need to have this for now, to keep this issue to the forefront, and highlight that disability equality in employment still has a long way to go.

Michael McEwan is a freelance journalist and disability campaigner.



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30 days ago
Too true !!