With over 600,000 vacancies in the British economy waiting to be filled, Mr Hutton believes that employers may be missing out on talented and motivated staff if they refuse to look at disabled workers as a solution to their staffing needs.
Mr Hutton said:
“I believe we need to go further in getting employers themselves to do more in supporting both recruitment and retention of disabled people.
“However, we will not succeed in changing the attitudes of employers by simply placing additional burdens on them. It has to be about enabling them to see and benefit from the huge potential that disabled people have to offer and the difference that they can make to an employer’s bottom line.”
Mr Hutton said that Government has played its part in helping disabled people to be ‘work-ready’ – through programmes such as New Deal for Disabled People and Pathways to Work – and employers should make more use of this workforce, which the Employ Ability initiative will help them to do.
Employ Ability will be piloted in the four cities of Leeds, Bradford, Manchester and Liverpool from September before being rolled out nationally next year and will:
Challenge negative assumptions about the skills and talent disabled workers, and those with long-term health conditions have to offer and address misconceptions of risk (such as that adaptations to the workplace for the disabled employee are costly – in most cases the costs are negligible or cost nothing)
Build the confidence of employers in recruiting and retaining disabled workers and promote best practice examples of how this is being successfully done to the benefit of business.
Improve employers’ access to practical information, making it easier for them to locate relevant sources of advice and support for their situation.
Employ Ability will advise employers not only on best practice in recruiting disabled employees but also in retaining current employees who become disabled while in the job – this is necessary in order to prevent those employees from having to leave their job.
Disabled people cannot be ignored as part of the solution if the government is to meet the target of an overall 80% employment rate and eradicating child poverty in Britain. The current employment rate of disabled people is 50% compared to 74% for non-disabled people.
Increasing the number of disabled people in mainstream employment will also help towards achieving equality of disabled people in society overall, which is one of the ambitions of the government.
Mr Hutton said:
“Our ambition must be a world where meeting the needs of disabled people is seen not as a burden but as an opportunity; where discrimination is seen not as an inevitable part of the culture of our country but as a fundamental barrier to our success; and where disabled people themselves are never consigned to accepting second best but empowered and supported to achieve full equality of opportunity and genuine independence and respect within our society.”