01 December 2010 #Employment
In the current climate of job losses and costs being cut, hunting for employment can be very difficult and demoralising. Disabled job-seekers will argue that the situation is far worse for them and that their biggest barrier to getting a job is getting to the interview stage in the first place.
In spite of the legislation in place making it illegal for employers to discriminate against those with a disability (for example the recent Equality Act 2010 restrictions on asking pre-employment health questions), the Office of National Statistics have published some alarming figures.
52% of disabled people between the ages of 16 - 64 are economically inactive compared to a figure of 23% for the general population. This indicates that you are more than twice as likely not to have a job if you are disabled.
The situation is not helped when there are fears in the public sector of having to fund any adaptations for disabled employees themselves which can discourage the hiring of people with disabilities. There does not appear to be much hope in the private sector either when stories are received by a recruitment firm that people have been rejected from a recruitment process when the potential employer has realised that the applicant is disabled.
In a recent BBC survey 90% of the people they surveyed believed that the government should fund making workplaces more accessible for people with disabilities.
The BBC looked at the challenges in the job market which disabled job seekers face and interviewed Richard Shakespeare, a disabled job-seeker who gave up searching for employment after 1,923 applications. Richard Shakespeare subsequently started his own business as a disability consultant and stated that the need to work was not only partly practical but it was also about self-esteem.
It seems that education is key. More training is required for employers to educate them on the benefits of recruiting disabled staff. Employers also need to be more alert to the changes in the discrimination legislation brought out in the Equality Act 2010.