In Scotland, only 45% of the disabled population have paid jobs – a stark contrast to that of non-disabled people which stands at 81%.
Within the 45% of hired disabled people, 33% of those registered blind have jobs, 32% of those on the autistic spectrum have paid jobs, 42% of people with hearing loss have paid jobs and only 4% of people with learning disabilities have paid jobs.
This gap is significant and, as it stands, doesn’t indicate a hopeful outcome for the Scottish Government’s goal to eradicate the disability employment gap by 2038. This is considerably more concerning following the pandemic which affected businesses of all sectors in 2020, leaving even fewer opportunities for a population that is already hugely neglected within employment.
The aims of this report were ascertaining the extent of employer knowledge surrounding the support available to assist in the recruitment and retention of disabled people. It also sought to gain information on employer comprehension of supporting disabled people in the workplace and how supporting under-represented groups can achieve job outcomes.
This was done over three stages; reviewing the literature from national and international sources, surveying employers and employment providers across Scotland and, finally, recruiting five employability providers to join an action research project.
Following the research, a three-month pilot was undertaken by a consortium led by VIAS. Delivered in Q1 of 2021, this provided employers with a programme of support and coordination covering areas such as disability awareness, learning disability awareness, autism awareness, hearing loss awareness and sight loss awareness with an aim to dispelling myths and helping employers understand how they can support disabled staff.
Additionally, sessions were provided to deliver training on employer responsibilities, recruitment and the principles in accessible communication.
Finally, it was recommended that employers understand that an inclusive workplace is one that is demonstrably inclusive, that fair policies and practices are initiated and understood throughout the business, ideas should be shared and valued regardless of perceived hierarchy, everybody feels that they belong and that they are respected as individuals. An inclusive workplace is one in which individual perspectives and experiences are considered to be valuable to the business and the decisions made within it.
Currently in Scotland, 81% of the general population are in paid employment. The Underrepresented Groups workstream hopes to address these gaps by building the capacity of employers to recruit and retain people who traditionally have been denied the opportunity to work.