The UK employment rate (74.6 per cent) is at a record high. The number of disabled people in work is continuing to increase too, up by almost 300,000 in the last year alone.
Tackling the disability employment gap
However, the employment rate for disabled people is still only 49.6 per cent. The disability employment gap, the gap between the employment rate of disabled people and non-disabled people, is far too wide. Tackling it will help to create a more inclusive society, but it is also good business sense.
We are committed to supporting disabled people to get into and thrive in work, and we have a key part to play in achieving that. But we cannot do it alone. Local authorities, health services, and particularly employers have a vital role to play.
The role of employers
Employers are the catalysts for change and the job creators. They are the ones who provide opportunities for disabled people to enter the workforce and succeed.
I have seen some great organisations such as REC and of course, my own department, taking a lead on disability employment, and reaping the benefits of a diverse workforce. I want this to become normal practice for all employers and for them to be confident in recruiting disabled people and supporting them in the workplace.
But there are some who aren’t so sure about recruiting disabled people. They may have misconceptions about what this would mean for their businesses. For others, it may simply be a lack of confidence about how to successfully recruit and retain disabled staff.
I think those businesses are missing out. Missing out on a wider pool of talent and potential, on securing high quality staff and on the insights disabled people can bring to their business. With disabled people making up almost a fifth of the working age population, the figures speak for themselves.
This is why we established the Disability Confident scheme.
Disability Confident provides employers with the skills, confidence and tools they need to help them recruit and retain disabled people and those with a long term health condition. The vast majority of disabled people will develop their condition or impairment during their working life, so it’s important that employers have an inclusive ethos both for retaining staff as well as recruiting them.
Disability Confident provides employers with the skills, confidence and tools they need to help them recruit and retain disabled people.
More than 3,700 businesses have already signed up to Disability Confident, including companies like Sainsbury’s, Barclays, KPMG, Channel 4 and BT.
But we need to do more.
The support of the recruitment industry
It’s fantastic that REC is supporting our new campaign, which aims to inspire all employers to demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity.
The REC is already a Disability Confident employer, which means that it is supporting other businesses as well as their own staff, so please join them and sign up to start your own disability confident journey. You can do this via the Disability Confident website.
You can also play a leading role in the campaign.
Recruitment businesses occupy a unique position in the jobs market, ensuring employers find the talent they need and helping people find the right jobs.
Could you use your position and your influence to encourage your clients to commit to being inclusive? Could you help them realise the opportunities that this brings, not only in finding new talent, but also in being leaders in their communities?
If this sounds like something you could do and you would like to know more about Disability Confident or being an inclusive employer, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you the tools you need to join the scheme.
So get involved and encourage your clients to sign up today.