Employment for people with disabilities

Despite sustained economic and jobs growth over the last decade in Ireland, in 2006 fewer people with disabilities were employed than in previous years. People with disabilities are clearly not benefiting from the extraordinary reduction in unemployment; they remain excluded from the labour market. IWA advocates on the issue of employment so people with disabilities can equally contribute and benefit from the economic growth and development of the country.

Equal Access to Employment for all

While there was an overall growth in employment in 2006 of 4.2%, an estimated 70% of people with disabilities are unemployed in Ireland today. National Disability Authority research shows that in the European context people with disabilities in Ireland are less likely to be in work, education and training when compared to their European peer group. These statistics are in direct conflict with the social vision of Ireland being an equal and inclusive society. Additionally, employment measures for people with disabilities that have been invested in to date could not be described as successful.

In light of these facts IWA have recommended that a comprehensive review would examine the effectiveness of the Supported Employment Programme and the lack of uptake of employment supports. The review must also examine the training and supports currently being provided to people with disabilities seeking employment. This review process would ensure that future funding allocated to address unemployment issues would be directed towards measures that achieve real outcomes for people with disabilities.

Additionally, IWA lobbies for further measures to be taken to promote equal access to employment. These include the removal of significant barriers that trap people with disabilities into remaining out of work because of the loss of medical cards and other secondary benefits. People simply may be worse off or insufficiently better off if they take up employment.

IWA view a national awareness campaign amongst employers a priority to raise the profile and create a better understanding of the important contribution people with disabilities can make to businesses. A positive image campaign by would embrace diversity in the workplace and promote a more equal society.

IWA Pre Budget Submission 07 made a series of recommendations that would create equal opportunities for people with disabilities to enter the open labour market. The submission called on the Government to fulfil commitments made under the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Sectoral Plan under the Disability Act.

IWA continues to lobby with all Departments in the public sector for the implementation of the recent enactment of the public sector 3% employment quota for people with disabilities which could create up to 7,500 jobs.