Getting disabled people into work

agendaNi looks at a new strategy which aims to help individuals with disabilities achieve their full employment and career potential.

The Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities focuses on supporting disabled people overcome a wide range of barriers and gain employment.

The strategy sets out five key themes:

•   Supporting people into paid employment;

•   Job retention and career development;

•   Working with employers;

•   Research and development;

•   Strategic partnership and engagement.

Supporting people to secure paid employment

This includes developing a disability service that will enable disabled young people and adults to make a successful transition into paid employment, including self-employment. It will consider enhancements within existing services to support the move into work placements, employment or self-employment. To improve the working partnership arrangements between government departments and the local disability sector.

It also proposes to adopt the model of supported employment for people with significant disabilities; to implement an improved ‘pathway to employment’, including a clear sign posting and referral service; develop management information systems to track progress; and to establish accurate baseline figures and subsequent targets.

Job retention and career development

This aims to support job retention and promote opportunities for progression, personal development and promotion. It will undertake a campaign to promote the disability employment retention services that are currently available. It will promote examples of best practice and introduce a new element to the ‘review’ process for those availing of specialist in-work support programmes. Working with disability organisations to target growth sectors of employment to ensure that disabled employees have an equal opportunity to develop a successful career path is also needed. The theme also aims to make the condition management programme available to employed disabled people.

Working with employers

This involves encouraging employers to promote equality for disabled people when creating job opportunities and developing staff. This involves working with the Equality Commission to develop a clear understanding on what an employer needs to do in relation to taking positive action for people with disabilities. This involves developing a best practice recruitment support model and organising major employer events to promote employment of people with disabilities. It also aims to establish a network of disability advocates and role models to influence the attitudes of employers; design and implement a disability employment advisory service for employers; and build positive attitudes.

Research and Development

This to ensure that Northern Ireland is leading the way in terms of research, development and innovation on disability skills and employment issues at local, national and international level. This involves releasing at least one research project annually to provide additional and relevant information. This new information will inform decision-making on future policy.

Strategic partnership and engagement

This to ensure meaningful engagement between all of the key stakeholders, including people with disabilities. Ongoing communication is required with those who are disabled but want to work. A new cross-departmental disability employment stakeholder forum to monitor the new strategy is to be established.

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