In April this year, the government announced that the number of specialist advisers dedicated to helping disabled jobseekers to secure and stay in work was to be increased, with a further 315 Disability Employment Advisors [DEAs] starting work at UK jobcentres from May 2021.
DEAs cover every jobcentre in the UK and work in collaboration with Work Coaches to help provide the appropriate support to help usher those with disabilities or health conditions into employment.
This news came as the number of Disability Confident employers in the UK soared to a record-breaking level of 20,000 in the week commencing April 5, 2021, a list which included household names such as Microsoft, Sainsbury’s and Network Rail.
Justin Tomlinson, minister for Disabled People, commented: “We are committed to seeing one million more disabled people in work by 2027 and as we recover from the pandemic we are redoubling our efforts to boost the support for disabled jobseekers.
“I know this is a challenging time, but we will be building on the record disability employment we have seen by protecting, supporting and creating jobs for disabled people.
“I know personally how valuable a diverse and inclusive workforce can be, so it is fantastic to see employers across Britain signed up to government programmes like Disability Confident. I would encourage other organisations, big or small, to follow their example and support disabled people to unlock their full potential.”
The increase in DEAs followed a new cohort of 13,500 Work Coaches freshly taken on by the Department for Work and Pensions during the Covid-19 pandemic to help stimulate the economic recovery by providing opportunities for all.
The UK government’s Plan for Jobs in tandem with the Access to Work scheme has already seen people with disabilities benefiting, with grants worth up to £62,900 provided to help employers cover the cost of workplace adjustments to accommodate disabled people.
This development comes as significant encouragement to Journey Enterprises, an organisation in Northeast England which works with individuals with complex conditions such as Down’s, Williams and Prader–Willi syndromes; cerebral palsy; fragile X syndrome; and autism. Providing these clients with life and work skills training, Journey Enterprises specialises in helping improve life chances, with its ethos of “seeing learning ability” underpinning all its work.
Driven by its vision to enable those with complex needs to live happy, socially inclusive and fulfilling lives in their own communities, Journey Enterprises has worked through years of transition in health, social care, education, and welfare and helped change the landscape of third-sector service provision and partnerships.
Speaking to The Parliamentary Review, Journey Enterprises CEO Elspeth McPherson said: “Our focus is on enabling people with learning disabilities to gain the skills and experience to live and work successfully. Our clients have given training presentations at local job centres, providing insights into working aspirations for people with complex needs. Job coaches have worked to show how person-centred delivery can work successfully across professional partners.
“We have been greatly encouraged by our own experience inside the Department for Work and Pensions through the Community Partners Programme to build best practice in supporting disability work outcomes. As we move forward, our key drivers are health, ageing and employability. The priority of our strategy is working together to address incrementally the barriers people with learning disabilities will face during their life span. Central to this work is enabling health and wellbeing, ensuring inclusion and equality of access across both service and sector provision.”