Talented and highly-educated young disabled people are continuing to miss out on opportunities for training, employment and career progression, according to a new report.
The Right to Work report is the latest investigation by the Trailblazers group of young disabled campaigners – run by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign – and surveyed more than 100 young disabled people.
Two-thirds of them said they may have had job applications rejected by employers because of discrimination. A similar number believed the job application process puts them at a disadvantage, while about 70 per cent said physical access to the workplace was one of the biggest obstacles they faced in obtaining paid work.
One in seven disabled graduates – with an average age of 26 – had never had a paid job, while one in five survey respondents felt they had been forced out of a job due to poor disability awareness.
Some campaigners said interviews or work experience had been called off when the employer realised they were disabled.
Members of Trailblazers also carried out undercover investigations of access at Jobcentre Plus offices and recruitment agencies across the UK.
Now they want the government and employers to set up a national disabled graduates training scheme, promote the business case for employing “talented, qualified and dedicated” disabled candidates, and encourage disability equality training for line managers
They also want to see more accessible facilities at Jobcentre Plus offices and recruitment agencies, and more disabled people employed as disability employment advisers by Jobcentre Plus.
And they called for greater promotion of the Access to Work scheme and for it to be extended to disabled volunteers, interns, and those on work placements.
Jagdeep Sehmbi, a wheelchair-user and multimedia communications graduate from Birmingham, said: “When I was applying for jobs, I noticed that as soon as I mentioned I needed wheelchair access the attitude would change – whereas I had initially felt a conversation was leading to an invite for interview, it suddenly ended with being told they would get back to me, which never happened.”
Bobby Ancil, Trailblazers project manager, said: “More than anything in this report, we were struck by the amount of talented and bright individuals employers are missing out on because they can’t see past disability.
“It is shocking that so many well-qualified people who want to work are unable to find jobs.”
To read the report, visit: www.mdctrailblazers.org
29 July 2010