Learning Disability Week this June has brought into the spotlight the low employment rates for people with learning disabilities. In fact, only 5.9% of people with a learning disability are in work, according to recent stats. But what is really creating this barrier to workforce representation and how can employers overcome the fear of hiring candidates with learning disabilities? The most common theme behind the barriers for people with learning disabilities to find work seem to be employers’ fear and prejudice. Moreover, this seems to revolve around a misconceived perception that somehow candidates with learning disabilities won’t be as good as non-disabled candidates.
So here are some objections from employers on hiring applicants with learning disabilities
Candidates With Learning Disabilities Require Specific Expertise
Everyone is an individual and each person has unique needs. Therefore, employers often simply need to ask what an applicant may need rather than just assuming complexity. People with learning disabilities often have access to employment support, meaning they would only need the same support as any other employer. This means a clear job description with defined responsibilities and expectations as well as meaningful feedback.
Candidates With Learning Disabilities Have Entry-Level Skills Only
People with learning disabilities are all individuals with different skills. Consequently, they will be able to do many different types of tasks. Although educational institutions are striving to be as inclusive as possible, the workplace seems to be struggling to catch up at the moment. Precluding employees with learning disabilities from anything but menial tasks, perpetuates the false concept that this is all they are capable of.
Increased Business Costs And No Business Benefits
Employers often tend to think that people will learning disabilities mean additional costs. Additional beliefs in the myths that surround people with learning disabilities tend to be that they are less productive, and more likely to have time off sick. Moreover, it is thought that they won’t stay in the job for long, when in fact it is quite the opposite. However, research shows that employees with learning disabilities take fewer absence days and are more conscientious of workplace safety guidelines because of their disabilities. Additionally, hiring people with learning disabilities can reduce turnover, as they tend to feel a greater loyalty to the company.
Hiring candidates with learning disabilities is good for business. Here’s why and how employers should overcome the fear of hiring candidates with learning disabilities.
An approach that can prove particularly helpful in employing people with learning disabilities is, job carving. Instead of fitting a person into a stiff job description, it can be much better to spot the tasks that a person with a learning disability can perform, and ‘carve’ out a job based on them.
People with a learning disability face many barriers when job searching. These include complicated application forms, negative employer attitudes, a lack of on-the-job training and recruitment opportunities. However, this is where apprenticeships can help. Apprenticeships can offer fantastic opportunities for individuals to learn whilst they earn. At the same time, they allow candidates to develop the skills and knowledge to progress their careers.
Hiring managers should remember that employment is important for everyone. It gives us economic independence, and socialising opportunities. We feel valued, we grow and contribute as part of society. Not only does hiring an employee with learning disabilities showcase diversity and inclusion. It shows that the business focuses on support for every member of staff. Creating opportunities for people with learning disabilities will break down the misconceptions of what it entails. It will strengthen our economy and foster a stronger sense of community. Isn’t it high time we focused on ability rather than disability?
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