A Government scheme to encourage firms to recruit and retain disabled people is proving more successful in the North West than in any other region. Tony McDonough reports
More than 3,000 employers in Merseyside and across the North West have signed up to a scheme where they pledge to recruit and retain disabled people.
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show just 52% of disabled people are in employment. This compares to 81% of non disabled people. A new report from the Disability Commission has urged Government to do more to close the gap.
Although voluntary, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Disability Confident scheme has signed up more than 20,000 businesses across the UK, including 3,054 in the North West, more than any other region.
The initiative champions inclusive employment and encourages businesses to recruit and retain disabled people. One of these is Wirral-based AdviserPlus, a provider of specialist HR services.
Pat Ashworth, director of AdviserPlus said: “Adviser Plus is proud to be recognised as a Disability Confident leader and has been proactively involved in the promotion of the scheme, both within the business and more widely in partnership with our clients.
“We offer sound HR advice and guidance for managers across our client base. By developing the skills and competence of our HR professionals, we can ensure that we deliver strong, appropriate and relevant Disability Confident messages.
“This means providing practical disability specific resource materials and toolkits to help ensure that disabled people are treated fairly and equally, enabling them to reach their full potential.”
An extra 315 Disability Employment Advisers are also to be recruited at jobcentres across the country by May and builds on the 13,500 new Work Coaches across Britain taken on by the DWP over the past nine months. The additional 315 DEA roles will start to be filled from this month.
DEAs cover every jobcentre in the country and working alongside Work Coaches, specialise in finding the right support to help clients who have a disability or health condition into work.
One North West DEA, Brian Thompson, added: “My role is to help disabled customers or those with a health condition reach their full potential. As a DEA, I want to go that extra mile by providing a service tailored to the individual, so they are properly supported to take the next steps whether that’s through employment or training, irrespective of any barriers they face.”