London employers are being urged to make a pledge to help people with learning disabilities find work and stay in work as the latest statistics confirm only a small minority are in jobs.
Business leaders from across the capital will be gathering on Thursday (26 February) at the Houses of Parliament for the London Learning Disability Confident event, organized by London Councils in conjunction with the Department for Education, the Department for Work and Pensions and Remploy. They will be finding out about the barriers individuals with learning disabilities can face when applying for jobs and at work, as well as what simple steps they can take to improve recruitment and retention of this potential workforce.
Less than seven per cent of people with learning disabilities are in employment nationally, according to a recent government survey. Among the employers speaking at the event, which is being hosted by Lee Scott MP, the Government’s Special Needs Envoy, will be senior executives from the National Grid, NHS England and healthcare giant GSK.
Cllr Peter John, London Councils’ Executive member for employment and skills, said: “Our pledge isn’t about corporate social responsibility, it’s about common sense recruitment.
“Getting a job in the capital’s highly competitive environment is hard enough for anyone, but often recruitment processes and qualifications exclude individuals with learning disabilities from even applying for posts where they could do well with the right support.
“As will become clear from the experiences of GSK and others, by taking the steps outlined in the pledge, companies will have access to a pool of untapped talent.”
Lee Scott MP said: “The number of people with learning disabilities in paid employment is shockingly low. This is something that we need to address as a society.
“Employers shouldn’t be expected to tackle this problem on their own and this event is about letting them know that, with a little help, they can make a huge difference.
“By taking a few simple steps they can change their recruitment practices so they can begin to attract candidates with learning disabilities and that will benefit not just the individuals themselves, but their entire workforce and their business as a whole.”
Joanna Harry, Inclusion and Diversity Manager at GSK, said: “Making our business accessible and providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities is extremely important to us and we have introduced schemes to enable this.
“However, in order to make a more significant impact on society, we need more companies to follow suit and that is why we fully support this initiative.”
Tony Collins, Learning Disability Spokesperson for Remploy, said: “Remploy know employers want to do more to support people with learning disabilities into work. They just need to know how to get it right. It's easier than you think. We can increase the employment rate for people with learning disabilities if we work together.”
The campaign builds on the DWP Disability Confident campaign which launched in 2013 and has seen employment rates for disabled people in the UK rise by 2.5 per cent.
Attendees will be asked to commit to one or more of the following pledges in order to significantly increase the work opportunities for people with learning disabilities:
• Review company recruitment procedures and practices
• Provide supported internship work placements
• Offer work experience opportunities
• Provide paid employment.