People with a learning disability are far less likely to have a job than the general population.

  • 6% of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in England are in paid work (HSCIC 2015)
  • 17% of all adults with a learning disability in England are in paid work (Emerson and Hatton 2008)
  • 47% of people aged 16 to 64 with any type of disability in Great Britain are in paid work (ONS 2016a)
  • 74% of people aged 16 to 64 in the general population in England are in paid work (ONS 2016b).

Infographic

Between 6% and 6.7% of people with a learning disability are in paid work in England and Scotland respectively. The Welsh government does not publish data on how many people with a learning disability in Wales are in paid work.However, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) provides data on the economic activity of people in Wales aged 16-64 who have a disability according to the Equality Act 2010 definition of disability (StatsWales 2015).

The Northern Irish government does not publish data on how many people with a learning disability in Northern Ireland are in paid work.However, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) provides data on the economic activity of people in Northern Ireland aged 16-64 who describe themselves as having a long-term disability (DETINI 2016).

The proportion of adults with a learning disability in paid employment varies by region. 

London has the highest proportion of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in paid employment, at 7.7% (HSCIC 2015).

In England, a higher proportion of men with a learning disability known to their local authority (6.4%) are in paid employment than women with a learning disability known to their local authority (5.3%).

There is very little current data on the proportion of all adults with a learning disability who have paid jobs in England, but past studies have suggested that about 17% of all working age people with a learning disability have a paid job(HSCIC 2015).

In 2008, Emerson and Hatton estimated that:

17% of all working age people with a learning disability had a paid job.

28% of working age people with a mild or moderate learning disability had a job

10% of working age people with a severe learning disability had a job

0% of working age people with profound and multiple learning disabilities had a job

People with a learning disability are less likely to be employed than people without.

They're also less likely to work in high level (managerial, professional and technical) jobs, and more likely to work in lower level and manual jobs, which pay lower wages (Meager and Higgins 2011). Research has identified a number of barriers that can make it more difficult for people with a learning disability to get a job, stay in work, and make progress at work. These include:

Negative attitudes or low expectations

Negative attitudes or low expectations of people with a learning disability. Their families, carers, managers and colleagues may have low expectations from them, which bring about negative perceptions about their abilities with regard to their employment

Skills and qualifications gaps

Lack of adequate skills can be a major issue for people with a learning disability.

Lack of flexible, personalised employment programmes

People with a learning disability who are looking for work need flexible or personalised work programmes

Unfair treatment

People with a learning disability may face unfair treatment, discrimination, bullying or harassment in the workplace.

Issues relating to access

Access and support in the workplace (including difficulties with transport, physical access or a lack of specialist equipment in the workplace) remain important issues, but are often not addressed adequately (Roulstone et al. 2014; Hall and Wilton 2015; Watts et al. 2014; Coleman et al. 2013; Meager and Higgins 2011)

 

Many don't feel comfortable talking about their learning disabilities at work.

Studies show that even upon entering the workplace, many may be unwilling to disclose their learning disabilities, even though such disclosure might result in accommodations that would make them more efficient and effective workers. There should be greater efforts to empower persons with learning disabilities by helping them become more aware of their rights, exercise their rights and redressal for discriminatory treatment in a manner helpful to themselves and their employers.

 

Research references

Here you'll find full referencing for the Mencap research and statistics pages.

Research references

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