Trailblazers to probe jobs market


A group of young disabled campaigners are embarking on an undercover investigation that is set to expose the discrimination they face in the job market.

More than 200 members of the Trailblazers network, run by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign (MDC), will survey job centres and recruitment agencies, and report on their own experiences in the job market.

They will also investigate how young disabled people are being treated by employers when applying for jobs, and take evidence from those made redundant during the recession.

They pointed to figures showing that only half of working-age disabled people are in work, compared with four-fifths of working-age, non-disabled people.

Trailblazer Jagdeep Sehmbi, from Birmingham, said: “A couple of times I’ve been invited to job interviews where they’ve then contacted me to say the building isn’t accessible for my wheelchair. So they’ve just had to be called off.”

And fellow Trailblazer Jennifer Gallacher, from Middlesbrough, said she was asked questions in interviews for a teacher training course about how she would cope with getting around the classroom, as she was a wheelchair-user.

She said: “I knew I could manage it – I now have a job as a teaching assistant – but they had no experience of disability and couldn’t understand how it would work.”

Bobby Ancil, MDC’s Trailblazers project manager, said: “We are hoping our investigation will show there is equality in employment for disabled people, but the stories we’ve heard so far suggest there is still discrimination going on.”

A report on the investigation will be published in June. Ancil said he hoped it would be a “step forward in making sure people with a disability have a fair chance at getting a job like everyone else”.

The Trailblazers have already carried out successful investigations into discrimination on public transport, in higher education and in the leisure industry.

22 March 2010