Fife leads the way in tackling disability employment gap

Yesterday’s Employ with Confidence event was organised as part of the Government’s Disability Confidence campaign 

A major event designed to help lift the barriers that prevent disabled people from getting into the workplace was held yesterday (Thursday, 30 June) in Fife.
The ‘Employ with Confidence’ event at the Vine Conference Centre in Dunfermline was organised by Opportunities Fife, in partnership with Shaw Trust Scotland.
This event also saw the launch of the Government’s Disability Confident campaign in Scotland, encouraging employers to recruit and retain disable people who are eager to work and have the skills, talents and abilities that employers are looking for.
This is part of a Government pledge to halve the disability employment gap and create opportunities for all.


Fife Council says the free employer event was a “reverse jobs fair”, in which a wide range of support was showcased in relation to employing, recruiting and retaining staff who may have, or develop, a health issue or disability.
A marketplace of stalls gave employers the opportunity to engage with these support organisations, including the Workplace Team, Fife Health & Social Care Partnership.
Shirley-Anne Somerville, MSP for Dunfermline, who helped launch the event, said: “I am delighted to have had the opportunity to speak at the Employ with Confidence event in Dunfermline – the first of its kind in Scotland – and that the Opportunities Fife Partnership is leading the way in tackling the disability employment gap.
“Nearly one in five people of working age in Scotland are disabled, yet historically there has been a significant gap between the proportion of disabled people employed compared with non-disabled people.
“The Scottish Government is firmly committed to equality for disabled people, and to creating a Scotland that is fair and inclusive to all.
“With employment support services soon to be devolved to Scotland, we can deliver these services in a better way, helping disabled people into suitable and sustainable employment whilst ensuring that the principles of fairness, dignity and respect are at the heart of any support programme”.
The event is one in a series of events which are part of the Government’s Disability Confident campaign.
Led by minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson, it exists to highlights the benefits to businesses of recruiting disabled people and how employers can achieve this.
The campaign addresses misconceptions about disabled people in the work place and highlights the benefits of hiring them.
Tomlinson said: “I am really pleased that Shirley-Anne Somerville, MSP for Dunfermline, is hosting her own Disability Confident event in her constituency as part of our commitment to halve the disability employment gap.
“Good progress has been made, but I still hear too often that disabled people feel they are being overlooked for jobs they have the skills for. With a local host the event really can make a difference – Shirley-Anne Somerville, MSP, knows the local businesses best as well as the local people.
“We all have a part to play in making sure disabled people are able to fulfil their potential in the workplace.”
These thoughts were echoed by Roger Mullin MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, who said: “I am very supportive of the Disability Confident campaign, and the roll out of the initiative across Scotland.
“There are many reasons why employing people with disabilities and ongoing health conditions is a great idea, and I fear that employers up and down the country are missing out on talented and experienced individuals because they are apprehensive about what employing someone with a disability or health condition might entail”.
Roy O’Shaughnessy, chief executive of Shaw Trust Scotland, sponsor of the Dunfermline Disability Confident event, said: “Shaw Trust Scotland was delighted to sponsor Scotland’s first ever Disability Confident event in Dunfermline.
“Our key mission is to break down traditional barriers faced by disabled people, which will help increase workplace diversity.
“Through our work with employers across Scotland we are seeing an increasing number of local businesses who are committed to recruiting more disabled workers.
“This event will help us develop even stronger connections with local employers in the community so that we can work together to reduce the disability employment gap.”
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