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Archive for August 4th, 2011

DWP steering group urges employers to help break the ‘glass ceiling’ of disability discrimination.

The DWP disability steering group has urged employers to do much more than they are currently doing to improve both the employability and job prospects of the disabled, citing the following significant figures:

  • Disabled people’s employment has gradually increased, from 40.9% at the end of 1998 to 46.8% at the end of 2010.
  • Disabled people make up 18% of the working-age population – that is over seven million people.
  • Around 15% of people with learning disabilities are in paid work (Labour Force Survey).
  • When compared to non-disabled men, disabled men have a pay gap of 11% and disabled women have a pay gap of 22%.
  • 56% of disabled people compared with 26% of non-disabled people report restrictions on the amount or type of work they can do.
  • Once in work disabled people are less likely to progress to senior roles.  Non- disabled people are three times more likely to earn over £80,000.
  • Access to Work helps disabled people find and stay in jobs and Government will spend around £100m on it this year.
  • Closing the employment gap between disabled people and non-disabled people would boost the economy by £13bn.

The steering group also gives some timely pointers about employing people with disabilities like:

  • Do not discriminate against disabled people on things like application forms, interview arrangements, job offers, and terms of employment (including pay) – not only is it not fair, it is against the law.
  • Don’t define a disabled person by their impairment and assume what they can’t do. Talk to them instead about what they CAN DO.
  • Address disabled employees in the same way as you would address all other employees.
  • Disabled employees should have the same opportunities for training and career progression as all non-disabled employees,
  • Be as flexible as possible – you are required to make reasonable adjustment by law which could include providing flexible working hours or support equipment.
  • Find out more about Access to Work – this could cover the costs of the specialist equipment that is needed to help an employee to do their job or get into work.

After all an employer wants to obtain the best person for the job advertised and therefore should look at the capabilities and skills of the person NOT any disabilities they might have.

David Healey

 Project Support Officer

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Ageism is a major barrier to employment.

Age UK have predicted that hundreds of thousands of over 50’s could end up as long term unemployed concluding that:

  • A large number of over 50’s will be added to the employment pool when they are taken off Incapacity Benefit and put onto Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
  • There is compelling evidence suggesting that the over 50’s are being actively discriminated against, by recruiters.
  • 300,000 over 50 year olds confirmed that they had been refused a job because   of their age in the last five years.

Age Concern has also estimated that an additional 250,000 mature people could be added to the job market, in the coming years, due to changes in personal economic circumstances.

Certainly from the available data jobs are being created by the private sector but the crucial question must be ‘What type of jobs are they? The reason this question is important is that employers are saying an increasing number of first time job claimants including graduates appear not to have the basic skills needed, and yet there is an untapped pool of expertise in the over 50 age group. These people who have the skills are being expected to wash down tables, and fill shelves.

Experiments in both America and Europe have shown that mature people are important resources to help the younger generations become more effective at achieving the skills needed by employers in areas like communication, social and basic reading and arithmetic. Perhaps this presently neglected group could be used in similar projects within for example the Big Society? Equally important may be the need to introduce tough new laws to prevent employers from discriminating against over 50’s, but there are concerns being expressed that further legislation would prove ineffective.

David Healey

Project Support Officer

READ: Age UK

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