New initiative to help boost job opportunities for disabled people
Businesses in Scotland are being encouraged by the Scottish Government to recognise the benefits of employing people with disabilities.
Only around 40% of working age disabled adults are in employment, compared with more than 80% of adults with no disability, according to the state, which has launched a campaign aimed at SMEs to help redress the balance.
An internship programme for disabled people run by Inclusion Scotland is also being opened up to SMEs for the first time to help create new work experience opportunities in the private sector.
Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman launched the campaign while visiting Glasgow’s Haggs Castle Golf Club, which has been hailed for its commitment to employing disabled people.
Ms Freeman said: “This important campaign seeks to dispel the myths – that employing disabled people is too costly, too difficult or will affect profitability. The reality is disabled people have a wealth of skills and talents which are too often unnoticed or ignored.
“Disabled people should have equal access to employment opportunities and we are committed to reducing the employment gap by at least half. Their skills, hard work and commitment are valuable to any employer – and with practical and financial support available to businesses it just makes sense to recruit from the widest talent pool possible.”
Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn added: “People with disabilities already make a significant contribution to our economy, however far too many simply aren’t given the opportunity. Businesses risk missing out on talent that can add real value to their organisations, which is an issue we must address.
“By highlighting the clear benefits of diverse recruitment practices, we believe more small business can help ensure a greater proportion of disabled people can become valued employees. I would encourage all SMEs to get involved and find out more.”
Tracey Morgan, Clubhouse Manager at Haggs Castle Golf Club, said: “I would definitely encourage other small companies to employ people with disabilities – there is someone out there for your business. It may require small adjustments to your workplace, but it is not a difficult process.”
Eddie McGinlay, who has autism and mild learning difficulties and is an employee with Haggs Castle Golf Club, said: “My employer is great. I’ve had the opportunity to develop my skills and work my way up. I would say to anyone in the same position, don’t give up, there’s so much support out there and employers are looking for someone like you.”
Inclusion Scotland will carry out initial assessments and appraisals for internship candidates and will provide on-going support through the lifetime of the internship, which will involve paid employment.
A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People sets out more than 20 actions that the Scottish Government will take to address the disability employment gap.