There was a meeting in Parliament earlier this month to discuss improving the work opportunities of people with a learning disability. I spoke about why that is important, and how I have developed in my job.
Last week, Lee Scott MP, the government’s ‘Special Educational Needs Tsar’ (expert), hosted the Learning Disability Confident event at the Houses of Parliament. The aim of the event was to encourage more employers to get people with a learning disability into meaningful jobs.
My employers, Mencap, were involved in organising the event and lots of people from different companies came and took part. They were asked to sign a pledge to give more work opportunities to people with a learning disability in future, including paid jobs and supported internships.
Find out more about Mencap's Employment services.
Lee Scott talked about some of the government’s plans for employment.
Some of the other speakers were from companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, National Grid and NHS England. They talked about all the positive things that they have found from employing people with a learning disability, or from providing opportunities for people to do work experience or supported internships.
The event is important because we know from our research that only 7 percent of people with a learning disability who are known to social services are in paid work. We also know people with a learning disability have the lowest employment rate of all disabled groups.
We want to see this improve in the future. I know about this issue from the work I did on the Disability Employment Strategy with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health last year.
I spoke about how important my job at Mencap is, the support I have had to do my job through Access to Work, and my own work achievements. I told the people there about how I am now managing a person with a learning disability who is doing work experience at Mencap, and why I want employers to hire people with a learning disability.
After I spoke, Lee Scott hosted a panel session where employers in the audience could ask questions about employing people with a learning disability. Their questions included how can we get more employers to know about the benefits of employing people with a learning disability, and how the government can help.
The event went well and the employers in the audience were very positive. Lots of employers signed up to the employer pledge. I think this is really good! We’re going to follow up with the employers who signed to help them work with more people who have a learning disability.
After the event I spoke to some of the employers and told them about my work at Mencap and about the positive achievements of people with a learning disability being in jobs. I think it was great that they were able to hear good examples of what good employees people with a learning disability can make.
I hope the Learning Disability Confident event encouraged employers to employ people with a learning disability.
If employers are not seriously considering people with learning disabilities for jobs, then they are not always recruiting the best people. The best person for a particular job may well be someone with a learning disability.