Young people with disabilities face “barriers to employment” in pandemic recession

Experts fear that the suspension of assisted employment schemes will leave young people with disabilities excluded from a “hypercompetitive” job market.

Dr Andrea MacLeod of the University of Birmingham on the barriers SEN students will face in a “hypercompetetive” job market.

“This falling employment rate is really worrying — and with talk of rising unemployment across the board, there is a worry this climate will worsen the barriers to employment and the inequalities that people with a learning disabilities already face.”

Supported Internship Programme. Credit: Newham College

“Say that there’s a job going at one department, where you’d normally have about five or ten people apply, you’re now going to have around 30 — and the likelihood is a more able bodied person with more experience under their belt is going to get that job.”

“I’ve had employers who were really sceptical. When we first approached John Lewis, we were told that they’d give our students the opportunity, but definitely couldn’t offer them any jobs. And then you see their mindsets change. Our learners become such valuable members of those departments.”

“People with a learning disability can work and want to work, and with the right support they can also make fantastic employees. They just need a chance to show they can do it.”

Derwen College students on work experience at a Premier Inn. Credit: Able Magazine

“We are trying to prove the skills of our students to the general public and organisations who might not consider people with learning disabilities — to not be able to go out and say look at what this person can do has had quite an impact.”

“If that person suffers from high anxiety and mental health issues, and it took so much out of them to go through that interview process, they might not want to go through that process again, it might really demotivate them.”

“There will be more grilling interviews. It’s going to be a cutthroat business. For our students, especially our autistic students, the interview is a big barrier to employment.”

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Nathan Clarke

Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism student at Birmingham City University