I was delighted to have been asked to open today’s Disability Confident Initiative Event, held by the local DWP and hosted at Redcar and Cleveland College.
In 2013 Disability Confident was launched with the aim of improving work opportunities for disabled people. The initiative encourages employers to recruit and retain disabled people with the skills and the talent that they are looking for.
Around 17% of working age people in the UK have a disability but they are twice as likely as members of the general public to be unemployed. The government has set out its ambition to halve this disability employment gap but at the current rate it would take more than 200 years to do so.
Fewer than 1 in 10 people receive any employment support at all and a recent study by Scope showed that disabled workers are still discriminated against with three quarters of disabled people being reluctant to reveal details of their disability for fear of discrimination.
Disability Confident is a welcome step to try and change this.
The Disability Confident campaign offers employers tips on how to attract, retain and recruit disabled people and highlights the business benefits of an inclusive workforce.
Disability Confident employers are those who have identified and removed barriers in the recruitment of disabled people, tapped into the support available, and successfully offered an opportunity to or hired local disabled job seekers. Many employers are at different stages on their journey to becoming Disability Confident, and many need support to break down barriers.
I would like to congratulate and thank all those who are on this journey.
I support in any scheme to get equality of opportunity for disabled people in our community.
A disability should never limit what you can do in life and businesses and organisations should be looking to harness our local talent and potential.