Disabled people want to work yet continue to face huge barriers to accessing suitable employment. Actions to reduce the disability employment gap have been a persistent area of activity and campaigning for Glasgow Disability Alliance and our individual and organisational members.
What is the disability employment gap?
In 2018 the employment rate for disabled people was 45.6% compared to 81.1% for non-disabled people. This represents a gap of 35.5 percentage points. It is important to note that there are significant regional variations e.g. in Glasgow the employment rate for disabled people is much lower- only 36%.
Some groups are disproportionately impacted by the disability employment gap e.g. those with learning disabilities and those with mental health issues.
When disabled people are in work they are more likely to receive on average lower pay as noted by EHRC in its research on the disability pay gap. Disabled people in work are more likely to be in part-time work and often are under - employed. Many are stuck in entry level jobs that are not appropriate to their skills or qualifications.
“Since I graduated in 2015, I’ve applied for easily 800 jobs,”
Nicole, a GDA member
“I have a degree in Public Health and Social Care and work in the NHS - as a cleaner. I feel I have much more to give”,
Kim, a GDA member
The disability employment gap represents a criminal waste of talent and we know at GDA that our members have so much to offer employers: experience, resilience, reliability, creativity and problem-solving skills. In other words all the things which employers say they are looking for!
So what is to be done?
GDA has worked with Scottish Government to help it produce “A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan”. Launched in December 2018 this plan contains a wide range of actions to achieve the ambition of halving the disability employment gap in the next 20 years.
In Glasgow we are working with a range of partners to develop and pilot the Working Together for a Fairer Glasgow Quality Standard for Employability Services. This quality standard has been coproduced with those who have direct experience of using employability support services including GDA members: together they are advising providers on making their services more accessible and tailored to meet the support needs of disabled job seekers.
Partnership with Social Security Scotland
Another positive area of development has been our partnership with Social Security Scotland. The agency will be recruiting large numbers of people to work in Glasgow over coming years and has taken steps to encourage applications from disabled people in Glasgow. The recruitment and selection process has been designed to be inclusive and they have engaged fully with GDA and others to promote these opportunities. Importantly, the agency has committed to ensuring that those disabled people who are employed will receive workplace support and any reasonable adjustments needed. There will also be vital progression opportunities.
Wanted - accessible and inclusive employers!
We need to change from approaches which focus on a perceived lack of capacity or capability of disabled people to approaches which focus on employerability- the readiness of employers to include disabled employees. Employers in all sectors should take positive steps to recruit, retain and promote disabled people. We are happy to support any employers keen to take these steps and who need advice or support about becoming more accessible and attractive to disabled job seekers - just contact GDA as soon as possible!