Disability Agenda Scotland (DAS) says there are an estimated 284,300 disabled working-age people in the country, and many experience lower rates of employment and pay than the rest of society.
In its End the Gap report, DAS is calling for both the Scottish and UK governments to take action to narrow the gap by 2025.
Delia Henry, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Scotland and Chair of DAS, said: “While some disabled people are not able to work, for others being in work has both economic and social benefits. But they face barriers to entering the labour market – not just physical or related to their mental health – but also in terms of societal and employer attitudes.
Young people with disabilities fare particularly badly, says DAS. According to research, although half were in further education nine months after leaving school, by the time they were 26 they were four times more likely to be unemployed as their non-disabled peers.
DAS wants the Scottish Government to set ‘realistic but ambitious’ targets to close the employment gap; more resources to support those in work; and public sector organisations to lead by example in recruitment. Employing more people who are Deaf or disabled could be one criterion to assess businesses bidding for public sector contracts, it suggests.
“There are opportunities posed by the devolution of key aspects of social security and employment support to do things differently in Scotland,” said Delia Henry, “especially in terms of linking the new social security system with employment support.
“More effort should also be made to reduce the number of people forced to leave their job due to a disability – 83 per cent of people with a disability acquire it while in work, while 400,000 people quit the UK workforce every year after developing a work-limiting condition.”
DAS recommends improved careers advice and enhanced funding for young people who are Deaf or disabled taking up college and modern apprenticeship places. It is calling for all Jobcentre staff to receive disability awareness training, and for more disability employment advisers.
But DAS says it is ‘deeply concerned’ by the planned closures of JobCentres across the UK, particularly in Glasgow. “This will impede people’s ability to access advice and support and will affect the most vulnerable the most,” Delia Henry warned.
The charities that comprise Disability Agenda Scotland (DAS) are Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, Capability Scotland, ENABLE Scotland, RNIB Scotland, SAMH and Sense Scotland.
For further information about Disability Agenda Scotland (DAS), contact Layla Theiner on 07876 865342.