Disability inclusion calculator is launched to ‘address’ the disability employment gap


According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), just 49% of disabled people of working age are in employment, which highlights a significant employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people of just over two million people.

It’s something that’s very much on the government’s agenda, with a promise from the Conservatives in 2015 to get over one million disabled people into work by 2020 to halve the gap. However, in January 2017, Dr Lisa Cameron MP claimed that “Research shows that [the government’s pledge to halve the disability employment gap] will not be met for 50 years.”

It’s an issue that’s powered by good intentions. It’s backed by a sense of doing what’s right and what’s just. And tools, like the one launched by RIDI, are helpful to a point. It asks you to enter the ‘How many people do you currently employ?’, then to enter ‘Actual number of people currently with a disability’ and then it displays ‘Target number of people with a disability’.

But what does this actually achieve? Granted, if you’re way off your ‘target’, it presents some stark figures in black and white. And it might kick-start some conversations about change. And this must be a good thing. A positive thing.

Yet we wonder how far it’s going to actually ‘address’ the employment gap. The disability inclusion calculator assumes that every workforce should include around twenty percent or more people with a disability. Yet according to Scope (a leading charity that’s committed to creating ‘A world where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else’) only 18% percent of working age adults are disabled. It already then puts employers on the back foot, as they’re being held to account for 100% employment. And surely that’s unrealistic. In an ideal world, everyone in the country would be employed – whether they have a disability or not. Clearly, this isn’t the case.

Looking closer at the data that Scope pulls its statistics from (the Labour Force Survey April to June 2016), it’s interesting to read other facts and figures that must contribute to the bigger picture. Take education. Post-19 education stats showed that disabled people are around 3 times as likely not to hold any qualifications compared to non-disabled people, and around half as likely to hold a degree-level qualification. So, for starters, it seems we need to look at the education system to ensure that young people with a disability enter the labour market with employable qualifications and skills. Companies should absolutely employ those with disabilities, but surely only if they’re right for the job.

We appreciate this is part of an altogether bigger debate, but our point is this. The disabled should have the right to the same employment opportunities. Full-stop. And if that means companies need to make alterations – whatever they might be – to recruit the right candidate, then that is what they should do. But having access to the same employment opportunities doesn’t guarantee anyone a job. It’s about skills matching the need. And it feels there’s work to be done from both sides to make idealism a reality. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it though.

Kate Headley, Director at the Clear Company and spokesperson for RIDI, had this to say:

“While the majority of employers we engage with are acutely aware of the value of tapping into disabled talent pools, many have noted a lack of guidance around what best practice actually looks like.

“We hope the introduction of this tool will enable an increasing number of organisations to take the crucial first step of determining their starting position, so that they can measure progress as they work towards becoming more inclusive.  

“While the intention of halving the UK’s disability employment gap was first introduced by Government, it is the responsibility of every employer, across every sector, to overcome. While it may seem like a daunting task to help over a million disabled people into work – we can do it, but we have to work together.

“The UK is home to over four million private sector businesses, not to mention public and third sector organisations. If each of these hires just one disabled person in the next four years, we’d smash through our target. From an HR perspective, disabled talent is a highly skilled under-represented talent group. Tapping into this pool doesn’t just have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line – it also genuinely changes lives.”

Thursday, 3 August 2017

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