Diversity – The Unrealised Potential of Workers with Disabilities.
Monster recently provided advice for the student ‘career corner’ at City College Peterborough: This guest blog post from Assistant Principal Tasha Dalton-Winterton highlights that workers with disabilities still face stigma in entering the workforce:
At City College Peterborough – Study programmes, we work with and support young people to educate them with the skills and knowledge they need to move onto their next steps in life.
Some of the learners have disabilities and it can be very challenging to find employers who are willing to give a work placement opportunity to a young person with a disability. Whilst some employers have recognised the benefits of working with and supporting the disabled community, the majority still have a negative attitude and preconceived ideas about what people with disabilities are actually like.
In the UK approximately 8 out of 10 people with a learning disability, who are of working age, have a learning disability that could be considered mild or moderate; in contrast, only two out of ten people who fall into that category are actually or employed. Those two statistics speak volumes and it is a clear indicator of the many barriers faced by people with disabilities, and in particular those with learning disabilities and difficulties.
Some of those barriers include:
Not having access to the right support
A lack of confidence and self-belief
Employers attitude towards disabilities.
People with learning disabilities have been stigmatised
I think the biggest barrier must be a real lack of understanding of what people with learning disabilities can achieve and contribute to the workplace, focusing on the disability and not the ability. For many years people with learning disabilities have been stigmatised and on the receiving end of discriminatory behaviour, when trying to access all parts of society. Whilst there has been a significant improvement in societies general attitude towards disabilities, the disabled community still faces a large proportion of discrimination based solely on a lack of understanding , education and in some cases ignorance. I’m pleased to say that we are starting to have many more positive role models, and images that represent the disabled community that are starting to filter through and represent disabled people in a positive way. However, gaining employment is a significant barrier still faced by many and has a long term impact on an individuals life.
When I speak with any young person, there is not a single person who does not have the aspiration to gain employment. This means in the current workforce demographic there are 100% of young people with a disability who want to get a job, but only 6% of them will ever make it into the UK workforce. What happens to the other 94% of those young people? Where are their aspirations, where are their role models and mentors to help them on their journey? Is it not the right of every young person to have equality of access and to be given the chance to get up and know the feeling of joining the world of work and making a meaningful contribution? Perhaps this is something that is exclusively reserved for people who do not have disabilities?
What Employers can do:
Now is the time to act and get involved, young people need your help. If you are an employer there are many things you can do to make sure that you are giving everybody a chance. Despite popular belief many people with a learning disability are fit to work and can make a positive contribution to a productive workforce. It is a well-known fact the individuals with a learning disability can be loyal and dedicated employees and this means you can reduce your staff turnover.
Have you considered becoming a disability confident employer?
This is a free scheme run by the government and is a great way of positively promoting that your company is dedicated to best practice and equal opportunities.
Can you help?
I have the privilege of working with some super talented young people who everyday make me proud. They are committed young people who just need a chance to showcase their skills, abilities and positive attitude to employers and demonstrate what they can actually do instead of people’s misconception of what they can’t do. Then get in touch today, we would welcome the chance to discuss any potential opportunities to help and support our learners!
Tasha Dalton-Winterton BEM
City College Peterborough