According to a new study by the Ibec employers group, a person with a disability in Ireland is just over half as likely to be employed as their peers without a disability.
The report says that the employment rate of people with disabilities in Ireland is half the European average, and the gap between the employment rate of people with and without disabilities is also the second largest in the EU.
According to the report, 36.5 percent of people (ages 15 to 64) with a disability are employed, compared with 72.8 percent of those without a disability.
The Ibec paper, produced in partnership with Employers for Change, the disability information service for employers, claims that more than one in seven people in Ireland has a disability – over 640,000 people.
However, it is said that despite continued economic growth in Ireland, results for people with disabilities have changed slowly over the decade leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the unemployment rate drop to around five percent.
“Finding and maintaining work is a challenge for many people with disabilities, from providing advice during training on topics and professions to providing opportunities. In addition, around 70 percent of people of working age with a disability or chronic illness have acquired this disability in their lifetime. “
The report states that, despite Ireland’s stated ambition to create more employment for people with disabilities, “the state for every euro spent on direct income support for people with disabilities (e.g. 2.4 cents on employment benefits (such as employability service , Partial Performance Allowance and Disability Activation and Employment Support) “.
The report recommends a number of reforms, including:
* Greater investment in evidence-based employment support for people with disabilities, the economy and society.
* Revision and update of the current scholarship system.
* Consolidation of all current disability benefits in one grant.
* Creation of an online application platform for all scholarships and grants.
* Discharge of the employer’s responsibility for applying for scholarships.
* Provision of 15 million euros to expand support for personal assistants.
* Increase in the funding program for people with disabilities.
* Removal of the threshold of 21.5 hours per week required to access the disability allowance system.
According to the report, there are a number of barriers to employment for people with disabilities and potential employers.
It states for the disabled person that this includes the loss of a health insurance card, the cost of assistive technology that may make it unaffordable, prohibitive rules for maintaining work-hour benefits, and the fear of not being eligible again to have benefits when the job doesn’t work or their circumstances worsen.
Potential employers, the report said, may experience a lack of disability awareness or perception of reasonable accommodation and cost concerns.
It also states that there may be fear of legal liability / mistake and litigation, as well as concerns about potential risks in hiring a person with a disability.
Kara McGann, Ibec Social Policy Director, said: “Improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities is a critical factor in improving the quality of life for individuals and families, but there are also significant benefits for organizations and the economy at large. Further government and business initiatives will be necessary to achieve a significant improvement in labor market outcomes for people with disabilities. Employers have a key role to play in recruiting and retaining people with disabilities in their organizations, and a whole-of-government approach will also be crucial, as the current isolated approach means that problems lie between different areas and that members of our company can fail and existing and fail prevent potential workers from realizing their potential. “
The director of Employers for Change at The Open Doors Initiative, Christabelle Feeney, said that to achieve ambitions to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities, a fundamental shift in attitudes and perceptions of disabilities is required, “and instead of To make people ‘other’, to make the necessary changes to ensure that we have a just society for all ”.
“We need to take a collaborative approach in both the public and private sectors to ensure that the fundamental changes are made and that the essential supports follow the individual.”