Businesses throughout Scotland are being encouraged to recognise the many 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. A campaign is underway to redress the balance, targeted at small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). This highlights information and support on how businesses can access this untapped talent pool.
Meanwhile, an internship programme for disabled people run by Inclusion Scotland will be opened up to SMEs for the first time, creating new avenues of work experience in the private sector.
Kenneth Gibson 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 the SNP Government is committed to reducing the employment gap by at least half. Their skills, hard work and commitment would be valuable to any employer and with practical and financial support available to businesses, it makes sense to recruit from the widest talent pool possible.”
Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn MSP 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 operations, 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.”
The one-month campaign includes dedicated media and social media output as well as online resources for employers and disabled people.
The employment rate for disabled people aged 16-64 is 41.7%, which compares to 81.5% for non-disabled people.
Inclusion Scotland will carry out initial assessments and appraisals for internship candidates and 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 the SNP Government will take to address the disability employment gap.