Build back better: an inclusive economic recovery in the UK
Between 2010 and 2020 the UK’s disability employment gap reduced by just 2%, despite the employment rate for disabled people rising faster than the employment rate for non-disabled people. A combination of accessibility barriers and negative perceptions of disabled people have contributed to the stubbornness of the disability employment gap.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on the employment of disabled people in the UK. Over the last year the proportion of disabled people who are either unemployed or economically inactive rose from 45.9% to 47.7%. The increase among non-disabled who are either unemployed or economically inactive was slightly smaller, rising from 17.8% to 18.9%. This meant that that the disability employment gap increased over the last year from 28.1% to 28.8%. The ONS reported that a higher proportion of disabled employees have been made redundant than non-disabled employees.
Technology was changing the future of work before COVID-19. Since the pandemic, the adoption and use of technology is accelerating and transforming work and labour markets at a pace which is likely to be unprecedented. Workers of the future will need new sets of skills to compete. Thousands of routine and low-skilled jobs will be eliminated by automation, A.I. and digital hyper-connectivity. These labour market changes raise important challenges, such as how to ensure the future of work is inclusive – leaving no one behind, including people with disabilities. Building back economies will provide opportunities for countries and businesses to address barriers facing disabled people in employment – through l design for jobs, business models and workplaces.
To reduce the disability employment gap it is vital that we have an inclusive economic recovery – one that addresses the needs of disabled people now in the pandemic, while also tackling the long-term obstacles faced by disabled people in the workplace. As an engine of economic growth and job creation, the business sector needs to adopt diverse and inclusive practices. We want to help ensure that disabled people are not left behind in the workplace; instead we want employers to recognise and embrace disabled people’s talents.
Build back better: an inclusive economic recovery in the UK will explore the important role businesses play to address the employment gap and address barriers faced by disabled peoplenwith a focus on employment for disabled people, what has been the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market? (ILO)
A Panel discussion: how can the digital transformation promote an inclusive economic recovery: What skills and opportunities do disabled people need to join the labour market? The panellists will include companies, disabled people and disability inclusion organisations.
About the Speakers:
Gemma Hope is the Director of Policy at Leonard Cheshire, a global charity which supports disabled people to live, learn and earn as independently as they choose. Gemma leads the charity’s influencing, insights and research work, including the charity’s current ‘Unlock Work’ campaign, calling for the government to invest in a disability inclusive economic recovery. This includes publishing Leonard Cheshire’s recent ‘Locked out of the Labour Market’ report, which revealed that the pandemic has affected the employment of 71% of disabled people. Prior to joining Leonard Cheshire, Gemma worked as the Director of Policy, Marketing and Communications at employability charity Shaw Trust, where she wrote and published the charity’s influential reports ‘Making Work a Real Choice’, ‘Mental Health: The Last Workplace Taboo’. She has over a decade of experience working in the employment and skills sector. Gemma is also the co-chair of the Youth Employment Group’s Disability Subgroup, which calls for disabled young people to equally benefit from government training and employment programmes, and secure jobs.
Ian is in his early 30s and based on the Wirral but originally from Shropshire. Ian volunteers for Leonard Cheshire as part of our Speaker’s Network, giving talks to different organisations on disability equality.
He is disabled and an active jobseeker who has had mixed experiences and faced attitudinal barriers from employers at different stages of the job-hunting process. Ian has been applying for work prior to the pandemic and during it. Ian thinks it is harder to find employment after the emergence of Covid-19.
Robin, who was born blind, moved back to Manchester after university and took part in Leonard Cheshire’s Change100 internship scheme for disabled graduates. Robin now works as a Graduate Accessibility Specialist at The Hut Group – boosting staff understanding of accessibility, promoting good practice and assisting colleagues. Having spent the majority of the COVID-19 pandemic “applying for various roles with various levels of success”, he now hopes employers will be “more understanding of employees who may need adjustments.
Roisin is an employment law partner at Ward Hadaway LLP with particular expertise in equality law. Roisin works with businesses and HR teams to support them with various employment related matters, including training on equality and diversity in the workplace.
Since August 2013, Senior Disability Specialist in the International Labour Organization.
Between 2008 and 2013, Executive Director of the International Disability Alliance between 1999 and 2004, Director of the European Disability Forum (EDF).
Was actively involved in the negotiation process of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2002-2006).
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