How to be proactive
In addition to good practice measures, processes and positive activities, there are further ways in which employers can help people with disabilities to prepare for and enter employment.
Even if an employer does not have an actual job vacancy, there are ways to assist people with disabilities to become more competitive and increase their job prospects. We’ve described some pro-active approaches in the Recruitment section of this guide.
Work Experience Placements
Employers may also want to consider offering work experience placements or work tasters for people with disabilities or long term conditions. Some managers may be apprehensive about employing a person with a disability. The great majority of these concerns can stem from a lack of knowledge about the capabilities of people with disabilities and the types of support available.
One of the most effective methods to improve awareness of employment and disability issues and to demonstrate commitment to a proactive approach in supporting people with disabilities is to offer work experience placements within the organisation.
This is often for people who have not worked before or who have developed a disability and need to change careers. The placements should be strictly time limited to between 2-8 weeks, usually on a part-time basis, involve clear goals and activities and be facilitated through a local supported employment organisation.
This can also be a useful learning opportunity for the employer and their staff team who may not have considered what roles in their organisation could be carried out by people who have disabilities.
- Increase or update existing skills.
- Determine strengths and weaknesses.
- Identify work preferences.
- Obtain an up-to-date reference.
- Gain relevant work experience.
- Contribute to a job search plan.
When providing a work experience placement it is important to draw up an agreement between the organisation, individual and any support organisation. This should include the terms of the placement (lengths, hours, supervision), and the provision of insurance cover. Individuals would not normally receive payment whilst on placement but should be provided with any uniform or safety equipment appropriate to the job.
A job taster should be organised in much of the same manner as that of a work experience placement. The main difference is that the duration of a job taster would not be expected to last for more than two weeks and in most cases will only be for a day or two. Job tasters are a simple yet effective way to enable a person with a disability to get a flavour of a specific occupational sector and to sample different types of work for a short period of time. This can be of benefit with regards to identifying future employment goals and also assists a person to gain an insight into particular work environments.
People with disabilities are more likely to have been out of work for considerably longer periods compared to non-disabled people. Moreover, significant numbers of people with disabilities may have never been in work and are relatively unaware of particular industries, work-place environments and job activities.
By facilitating an organised work-site visit, an employer can provide a person with a disability (or a group) with a brief insight into the realities of work and the roles and tasks performed in their workplace. This may well influence their career choices as well as helping prepare for the world of work. Work-site visits should ideally be organised and co-ordinated through an employment support organisation and would not be expected to last more than a few hours.
Encourage job applications from people with disabilities
Employers can target people with disabilities and disability organisations by sending them future job vacancies. A welcoming and encouraging statement in job advertisements conveys a positive message that as an employer you wish to create a diverse workforce. You can find out more information about this in the Advertising tab in the Recruitment section of this guide.
Include Disability Awareness Throughout Your Company
Inclusion happens when everyone in your company understands the value of hiring a diverse workforce. Include regular training focusing on disability awareness and inclusion. Many SUSE members can offer this training. SUSE also offers employers a quality training programme for the managers of organisations who undertake the Inclusive Workplace Award.
Consider an Award scheme or a national initiative
SUSE has developed the Inclusive Workplace Award. Working towards the award allows you to review your practices and give managers training to increase their confidence in supporting people who have disabilities or long term conditions. It also allows you to link up with a Supported Employment agency who can support you to recruit and retain employees with a disability.
SUSE also runs DuoDay once a year – the next is in May 2019. This a great way to promote your organisation as inclusive and committed to diversity. It also allow a young person with a disability to learn about your organisation.