Press release

Harper: Major companies waking up to employment talents of disabled people

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

More companies across the country are waking up to the considerable talents of disabled people in the workplace, says Mark Harper.

Latest employment statistics show there are now a quarter of a million more disabled people in work in Britain this year compared to last and the disability employment rate has increased by 2.5% – the largest year-on-year rise in a decade.

Now some of Britain’s leading employers including Barclays, Fujitsu and Sainsbury’s are today pledging to broaden employment opportunities for new and existing disabled staff and develop their good practices towards disabled people in their workforces.

Minister of State for Disabled People, Mark Harper said:

The latest employment figures show 250,000 individual stories of hard work and determination – of disabled people facing a better future in the world of work. And as well as their personal achievements, credit is due to the increasing number of companies who are championing the employment value of disabled people.

More and more companies across the country are waking up to the considerable talents of disabled people in the workplace. Indeed, evidence shows that disabled people tend to stay in a job for longer, have a strong commitment to their employer and experience lower rates of absenteeism.

Disabled people make a vital contribution to our labour market, as well as being uniquely able to help employers make connections with disabled customers. Shutting out disabled people isn’t just unacceptable discrimination, it’s bad business.

The new pledges will come at a Parliamentary event which takes place today and include a drive to get more disabled people into banking careers. Already 11% of apprentices taken on by Barclays are disabled and the bank has committed to grow this number.

Through its Disability Confident campaign, the government is working with employers to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfill their potential and realise their aspirations.

In a 2013 survey, 42% of disabled people looking for work said one of the biggest barriers they faced was the attitude of employers. Disability Confident is working with employers to raise the profile of disability employment and tackling those misconceptions.

The “Purple Pound”, representing the spending power of disabled customers, is estimated at around £212 billion a year and many employers have found that a good representation of disabled staff is the key to connecting with disabled customers.

Disabled employment in numbers:

  • disability employment is now at 3.1 million
  • the employment rate for disabled people rose by 2.5% in the year to September 2014
  • employment rate for disabled people is around 46% compared to 79% for non-disabled

Barclays is pledging to make its successful apprenticeship programme truly Disability Confident. It is working with more than 40 non-government organisations and charities to help disabled young people across the country to access apprenticeships, and is working with Disability Rights UK to target young people in area of high youth unemployment.

A dedicated guide for people with a disability on how to access apprenticeships has been sponsored by Barclays, and includes examples of employees who have started permanent careers.

Ashok Vaswani, Chief Executive of Barclays Personal and Corporate Banking, said:

We’ve been really keen to work with the Disability Confident campaign to show just what can be achieved. Employers need to recognise that people with a disability are a major source of potential talent for their workforce, and by not realising these talents many companies are currently missing out. Barclays is developing a stronger workforce by including more people with a disability, and is also improving services for our customers as a result.

The bank has already helped 1,900 young people into work over the past 3 years, and today more than 11% of new apprentices identify themselves as having a disability.

Access to Work provides financial support towards the extra costs faced by disabled people who are looking for work or need support to stay in their job. Last year it helped more than 35,500 disabled people in mainstream employment.

More information

More information about the Disability Confident campaign can be found at: www.gov.uk/dwp/disabilityconfident

More information about the Barclays apprenticeship scheme can be found at: www.jobs.barclays.co.uk/young-people/apprenticeships/

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