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Employers must commit to increasing job opportunities for people with disabilities – Conway

22nd September 2021 - Senator Martin Conway

Employers must commit to increasing job opportunities for disabled people to tackle the disparity that exists in the employment rates of people with and without disabilities, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Health Senator Martin Conway said, “Today’s report from the ESRI highlights just how low our current education and employment rates are for people with disabilities, and must serve as a call to action for Government and employers alike to tackle the issue.

“Education and employment gaps exist between people with and without disabilities in Ireland today. Data shows a much smaller percentage of people with disabilities attend university, with only 6% of people with an intellectual disability having a third-level qualification.

“The situation is similarly unacceptable when we look at employment rates. Only 36% of disabled people are working, with Ireland having had the fourth-lowest employment rate for people with disabilities of working age among EU-28 countries in 2018.

“A broad, cross-societal response is needed to address these disparities and ensure people with disabilities are afforded the same opportunities to attend third-level and progress on to the workforce if they so wish. We must look at practical solutions such as ensuring suitable education and career advice is available for students with disabilities as they leave school, as well as guaranteeing the necessary supports are in place for people if they progress to third-level.

“I believe that the key to really tackling this issue in the long-term lies in employment, specifically ensuring that suitable job opportunities are available for people with disabilities.

“Ultimately, the provision of job opportunities rests with employers and we need commitments from businesses and organisations that they will put a particular emphasis on recruiting people with disabilities throughout their hiring processes. In turn, employers need supports and investment from Government to create these opportunities.

“There are organisations and businesses who have taken the lead on this issue and have laid the pathway for others to follow. The Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID) offers people who have intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in higher education. The centre has also expanded their model by connecting with businesses who offer the students employment opportunities upon graduation.

“The centre’s model is a prime example of tackling this issue in a very practical way. I know my colleague Minister Simon Harris met with the TCPID recently and committed to increasing job opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.

“Alongside commitments from employers, we need to see a proactive, inter-departmental approach from across Government with integrated policies and financial support to truly increase opportunities and improve the standard of living for people with disabilities,” concluded Senator Conway.

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