In particular, the opportunities we create for disabled people to play their full role in the economic life of the nation. At present too many people are excluded through no fault of their own. We want to change this and we know there are thousands of employers that share our ambition.

In the year ahead we will be piloting a range of projects and services that develop new models of support for employers and have been demonstrated in real world settings. Our goal is to use what we learn to create a Centre of Excellence for Scotland’s employers in 2022. This will be a resource that is available to all employers, big and small, in any part of the country and in every sector – offering the advice and help they need to become truly inclusive.

Examples of the type of services the Centre will offer will include:

A comprehensive suite of training programs
Reviews of current recruitment practices
Guidance on how to make workplaces more inclusive
Support for employers and disabled people to ensure each person is set up for success
A range of tools to grow and develop workplace diversity
Advice on making information and development opportunities accessible for all
Guidance on creating work experience opportunities for young disabled people
Information on funding and support for disabled people and their employees
Access to meaningful accreditation that recognises your progress and commitment to this agenda
Opportunities to partner with the centre and become an employer champion

We anticipate that the Centre of Excellence will bring together Scotland’s leading disability organisations as a partnership and create employment opportunities for disabled people who wish to use their experience to benefit employers. In the next year, our services will be free as they are fully funded by the Scottish government. However, going forward we expect the Centre of Excellence to offer services and consultancy on a commercial basis, generating a sustainable income that we can invest to recruit more employers and develop new services for the marketplace.

To achieve our goal, we hope to work with employers not only in the year ahead to deliver our pilot projects but on a longer-term basis. We need employers to tell us how best we can support them, and we want to create links and partnerships between employers, disabled people, and expert organisations to ensure we are learning together and overcoming the unnecessary barriers disabled people face when trying to enter employment.

We know that employers want to do the right thing and we want to help.