Mencap survey: employers ‘worry about employing people with learning disabilities’

According to a survey conducted by Mencap – the UK’s learning disability charity – many companies are still reluctant to employ people with learning difficulties.

Out of all the responses, just under a quarter (23 per cent) of employers believed that their other workers would not be happy working with someone with a learning disability, while almost half had concerns that they would have to provide more training and resources.

45 per cent also stated that they thought it more likely someone with a learning disability would not be able to interact well with the general public, in roles such as serving customers in shops and restaurants.

However, the figure falls by 15 per cent among employers that have actually employed people with learning disabilities.

The UK Government wants more companies to employ people with learning disabilities, to give them valuable work and the chance to integrate more fully with society.

Iain Duncan Smith, work and pensions secretary, recently stated that he wants the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people to narrow, but he also acknowledged that more needs to be done to make the goal a reality.

Currently, approximately 1.4 million people living in the UK have a learning disability but recent figures indicate that 65 per cent of adults that fall into the category want paid professional work, though only seven per cent have been able to fulfil that wish.

The head of employment at Mencap – Mark Capper – said: “It’s a lack of knowledge and awareness. People are often scared of the unknown. But once we actually support people with learning disabilities into work we find employers have a positive reaction and tell us about positive impacts.”

Employers such as McDonald’s, South West Trains, Sainsbury’s, and Enterprise Rent-a-Car have shown their support for the charity’s work experience programme, to give people with learning disabilities the chance to enter employment.

Mencap also offers to provide employers with a support worker for every new employee they hire, for a maximum of six months, and any businesses interested in finding out more about the scheme should contact the charity or visit their website: www.mencap.org.uk.

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