Workforce barriers still exist

Almost three in five organisations are employing people with learning disabilities but significant barriers to progress remain, an exclusive Community Care survey has revealed.

A joint poll of 451 employers with our sister-title Personnel Today shows that 59% of organisations, across public, private and voluntary sectors, employ people with learning disabilities, with over three-quarters describing the experience as positive.

But the survey exposes key barriers among employers to doing more to bring people with learning disabilities into the workforce, at a time when government figures show just one in 10 of the group have a job.

Among reasons cited for not employing people with learning disabilities, 88% of respondents said they did not target them in recruitment, 79% cited the need to adapt to accommodate them, and 68% claimed a lack of interest among managers.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, all employers must make “reasonable adjustments” to recruitment processes, working arrangements and conditions to accommodate disabled people.

Andrew Lee, director of user-led group People First (Self-Advocacy), said recruitment procedures were often unsuitable for people with learning disabilities. “Often the questions that are asked as part of an interview process are asked too quickly and not enough time is given to respond.”

He also believed employers were ignorant of the government’s Access to Work scheme, which provides grants and support to cover additional costs of employing disabled people.

While the survey found that more than 70% of respondents cited the failure of people with learning disabilities to apply for jobs as a reason for not employing them, Lee blamed employers’ failure to advertise in the right places – such as the disability press – a point backed by the Disability Rights Commission.

A DRC spokesperson added there was a greater onus on the public sector to break down employment barriers, due to their duty to promote equality.

Creating better employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities is a key aim of Community Care’s A Life Like Any Other Campaign.

A survey of more than 1,000 people with learning disabilities to launch the campaign last month found that 22% had a job. Of those people with learning disabilities who did not have a job, two-thirds wanted work.

Further information
Disability Equality duty
A Life Like Any Other

Related articles
Why doesn’t your organisation employ people with learning disabilities (graph)
Learning Disabilities
Employment schemes for disabled people vary widely and need more scrutiny
Employment barriers for people with learning disabilities

Contact the author
 Mithran Samuel


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