The employment ‘marketplace’ is traditionally very active in the New Year. Perhaps people take the opportunity during their end of year holidays to sit down and think about what they really want in the next year, perhaps even the next decade and use that special New Year-induced optimism to fuel a leap.
All of this employment activity means that there are jobs up for grabs. Granted, lots of disabled people are reluctant to get involved, not least because they may have faced what they consider as rejection before, perhaps suspecting that their disability ‘got in the way’.
The good news is that there are organisations and schemes available that can support disabled people with feeling more confident when approaching either specific employers or the marketplace in general.
There are clues to look out for that help to indicate where inclusive employment is about more than box-ticking or reaching minimum requirements. Accreditations, such as those from the Disability Confident scheme or Business Disability Forum mean that employers have had to commit to certain standards of inclusivity.
Be a solutions provider
Of course, you shouldn’t feel that you need to limit your applications to accredited organisations. In a sense, non-accredited organisations are simply ‘not accredited yet’. You could be the employee that shows them how to tap into a previously overlooked pool of disabled talent. By showcasing how simple certain adaptations and reasonable adjustments are to apply, you could really impress. Similarly, what disabled person hasn’t learnt how to become a ‘problem solver’ in facing down their challenges – and tell me what employer doesn’t like problem solvers?
In a stroke we’ve also answered that time-old question as to whether you should mention (declare) your disability. Naturally, it’s a personal decision but we’d broadly say that in doing so you’ll show a fearless and honest streak, again admirable among potential employees. Think about how you’ll discuss your disability from a positive framework, focusing, first and foremost, on how your skills and abilities fit the job.
Know your rights
Employers know it – and so should you: the Equality Act, 2010 legally protects jobseekers and employees against discrimination. That means that you’re entitled to fair treatment when it comes to recruitment, pay and promotion and that employers must make their workplaces accessible to you through reasonable adjustment (and adaptations).
Search: ‘Equality Act 2010’ at:
Disability Rights UK:
Work experience and volunteering
Diving straight into the tumultuous world of job-seeking and employment can seem daunting. Perhaps an intermediate move might help you to gain confidence and even a little more experience to help with your employability. Nobody should feel that they need to work for nothing; your skills and contributions to any workplace are valuable. Think of work experience and/or volunteering as giving you skills and experience in lieu of remuneration, helping you later on to compete for employment opportunities.
Schemes and organisations
The following is a list of some of the main organisations and schemes that can help disabled people with employment matters.
Access to Work
Sometimes the help you need to succeed at work cannot be met by reasonable adjustment. In these cases Access to Work can help. If you have a paid job or are about to return to one, you’ll be offered support tailored to your needs. This could include a grant towards the costs of practical support in the workplace or even with getting to and from your place of work.
Be the Difference
Able Magazine launched its employment initiative, ‘Be the Difference’, in 2018. We’ve been doing a lot of work to reach out to like-minded employers to join the scheme, giving them the opportunity to post jobs, share case studies and the latest news stories with our readers to raise awareness of employers specifically looking to employ disabled people.
Business Disability Forum
This is a not-for-profit membership organisation that makes it easier and more rewarding for businesses to employ disabled people. By providing pragmatic support, sharing expertise, giving advice, providing training and facilitating networking opportunities, they help organisations become fully accessible to disabled customers and employees.
The charity, Leonard Cheshire, runs a scheme called Change100, which brings together the UK’s top employers and talented disabled students.
Search ‘Change 100’ via:
The government employability scheme supports employers to make the most of the talents disabled people bring to the workplace. Over 15,000 organisations have already signed up, a testament to their commitment to change attitudes for the better, starting with behaviour and cultures in their own businesses, networks and communities.
The Work and Health Programme can help you find and keep a job while providing personal support for any needs you may have.
Specialist Employability Support is also available (usually for 12 months). You’ll be assessed and matched to a support organisation such as Shaw Trust, Remploy or Kennedy Scott.
Specialists in supporting people with complex barriers to find great jobs, where they can start to build successful careers.
Mencap’s employment services support people with a learning disability into paid work across the country.
The UK’s leading disability specialist, with more than 70 years of experience delivering employment and skills support. As a government-owned business, they provide direct employment for disabled people in a national network of factories.
Shaw Trust help around one million people every year to gain an education, enter work, develop their career, improve their wellbeing or rebuild their lives. They work with businesses in helping to make them more accessible.
Another route towards improving your employability is by upgrading your qualifications. If you’re thinking about study but need advice, try:
Disabled Students Helpline
Disability Rights UK can advise and support disabled people (aged 16 and over) who are studying or wish to study at any level on full-time or part-time education or training courses if the course is in England. (They can also advise and support disabled students or parents and/or carers of disabled students or professionals working with disabled students. Calls are free from a landline.)
Tel: 0330 995 0414
Opening hours: 11am-1pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Students studying in Wales or Scotland
While Disability Rights UK advisors can support students who are studying in Wales or Scotland with general information on the Equality Act, welfare benefits and access to Higher Education they recommend that disabled students who are studying in or wish to study in Scotland, contact Lead Scotland
(Tel: 0800 999 2568) for more specialised information and advice about education and training in Scotland.
The Lead helpline is open 2pm-4pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 10am-12pm on Tuesdays and Fridays.