Employers called on to make inclusion work on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

New National Disability Authority-funded training programme, aimed at tackling low levels of employment among persons with disabilities, launched on International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Four partner organisations have joined forces to create an online training programme to support employers to become “disability confident”. To mark UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the four organisations Not So Different, WALK, Rehab Group and AsIAm, launched the training programme to support employers to develop inclusive recruitment, retention and promotion practises for people with disabilities.  The programme is grant funded by the National Disability Authority

A number of leading employers in the public and private sectors including: Mr Price, Accenture, Quality and Qualification Ireland, Northside Partnership, the Public Appointments Service and City of Dublin Education and Training Board have already successfully piloted the new programme. Now, the campaign groups are appealing to more employers to tap into this hidden, diverse pool of talent which represents more than 13pc of the population.

Speaking on behalf of the four partners,  Adam Harris of AsIAm said: “Persons with disabilities have a broad range of interests, qualifications and skills however too often these assets are lost to workplaces due to a lack of confidence, or even fear, around inclusive employment. The consequences of this are stark, with the community two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population. This is despite a range of supports, from government and disability organisations, open to businesses to access this talent pipeline and the relatively small, reasonable accommodations required to succeed.

“Given the right information and guidance, employers can begin their journey towards inclusive employment practises in recruitment, on boarding, in-work support and career progression. Approaching employment through the lens of inclusion and diversity not only benefits persons  with disabilities, but also benefits employers,” he added.

The training programme aims to support employers to develop “disability confidence”. Over five modules, employers will access a broad range of practical information and strategies.  Issues explored include how to reach people with disabilities in recruitment campaigns, how to run an inclusive and equitable interview processes, how to discuss disability with a candidate or employee and how small adjustments to the workplace environment can make the world of difference for an employee with a disability. 

The training was supported by the National Disability Authority. The programme is the fulfilment of an action under the Second Action Plan of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities 2015-2024. It aims to take a rights-based approach to employment in accordance with Ireland’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.  

Speaking at the launch of the training programme, Minister Anne Rabbitte, TD, Minister of State for Disabilities said the training offers a rich insight into the barriers too often experience by people with disabilities. “I am delighted to support the launch of this important resource for employers. This training offers a rich insight into the barriers too often experienced by people with disabilities in accessing work and the reasonable accommodations which can make all the difference. It takes a whole of disability approach through the expertise of the four partner organisations who developed the training in partnership with the National Disability Authority. Inclusive employment is not about charity but benefits both candidate and workplace, in matching the right skills to the right roles. International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an opportunity for us all to learn about how we can build a more inclusive society.”

The Minister added that the Government was committed to ensuring that people with disabilities have equal opportunities in the workplace and is committed to doing so through the implementation of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy.

This year’s theme is “building back better – toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World” as we work through the COVID-19 pandemic and deal with a “new normal” it is incumbent on us all to make the world of work disability confident and accessible for all,” she added.

The programme takes 2 hours to complete and can be taken on either phone or mobile. It is aimed not just at senior management but at human resource teams, line managers and colleagues. The accessible training is available by contacting employer-services@rehab.ie