DH/DWP bids to close learning disability employment gap

Phil Hope

Ministers today vowed to close the gap between the employment rates of learning disabled people and others through a cross-government strategy.

Currently an estimated 17% of adults with a learning disability are in paid work, compared with 49% of disabled people in general, but two-thirds of learning disabled people would like to work.

The Valuing Employment Now strategy, sponsored by the Department of Health and Department for Work and Pensions, will include public sector agencies taking a lead in increasing the employment rate of people with learning disabilities.

Public sector jobs

Four hundred opportunities will be offered to learning disabled people across the DWP, while the DH will work with strategic health authorities and the NHS Confederation to increase the number employed by the NHS.

All government departments will be issued with guidance to help them target people with learning disabilities in recruitment campaigns while Jobcentre Plus staff will receive further training in support the group.

Job coaches will also be recruited to give people with learning disabilities the support they need to find and retain paid work.

‘Huge talent pool’

Care services minister Phil Hope said: “Huge progress has been made in getting physically disabled people into employment but more must be done to help people with a learning disability – we’re missing a huge talent pool which employers can tap into.

“This strategy lays out an ambitious but achievable goal – to close the employment gap.”

The Learning Disability Coalition, which represents 15 organisations across the sector, welcomed the strategy.

Funding warning

But its chair, former Mencap chief executive Jo Williams, warned: “With public expenditure cuts on the horizon, council budgets already under pressure and the numbers of people with a learning disability needing services already increasing by 3-5% a year, there is a real risk that this is another strategy without the wherewithal to make it happen.”

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Learning disabilities: Route into employment spelt out


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