July 28, 2015
The number of disabled people in employment has experienced a growth equivalent to around 650 people every day, according to new figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). They’ve been published to mark the first two years of Disability Confident; launched in 2013 to work with employers to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfill their potential in the workplace. The campaign has been backed by 376 firms so far and seen the number of disabled people in work increase by 238,000. With research this week from the Centre for Economic and Business Research and Averline, revealing that small employers still had 520,000 vacancies that they were unable to fill because of a lack of relevant skills; Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, challenged businesses to consider the boost untapped disabled talent could bring to their workforce.
He said: “The attitudes of employers are changing as they wake up to the fact that treating disabled people fairly isn’t just the right thing to do – it makes business sense too.
“The most successful businesses are those with the most committed and talented workforces – and no business can achieve that without being alive to the skills that the millions of disabled people in the UK have to offer.
“This second anniversary of the campaign is our opportunity to push on and do more. I want all businesses to recognise that diverse workplaces are stronger workplaces.”
In total, 3.2 million disabled people are now in work – and the Government says it is committed to increasing this by around a further 1m as part of its ambition to halve the gap between the employment rates of disabled people and the wider population. Marks and Spencer is one of the latest major firms to join the campaign, which so far, includes Sainsbury’s, Barclays and BT.
However, in an interview with BBC Radio Wales, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has said that more still needs to be done to shift perceptions towards people with disabilities as disabled people are portrayed as; “either a Paralympian, a benefit scrounger, or a victim.”
She also said that, despite the Equality Act: “We’re still a long way from equality and the disability rights movement has struggled so when the Equality Act came in, I was really hopeful that actually for disabled people, it would mean a really big step forward.
“But it hasn’t been and we’re still kind of lost behind other minority groups.”