Nearly nine in ten adults with learning disabilities find it hard to find jobs

Almost nine in ten adults with learning disabilities have experienced difficulties finding a job. Key reasons why employment is hard to come by include a lack of confidence (51 percent), and prospective employers not understanding what they can do with the right support (32 percent).

The poll, of 500 people with learning disabilities, found 32 percent don’t think employers would hire them, while 29 percent found the application process difficult.

And 27 percent worry they wouldn’t have the support needed to carry out the role – while a quarter do not feel supported by employers when going for a job.

More than three-quarters (79 percent) even said a fear of being judged by an interviewer had put them off going for a role altogether.

Ahead of Learning Disability Week, from June 19-25, Hilton commissioned the research to launch a free educational workshop, in partnership with the Down’s Syndrome Association and Aurora Foxes, which will take place in early September.

Stephen Cassidy, senior vice president and managing director for UK & Ireland at Hilton, said: “Building an inclusive workplace, which allows every individual to thrive, is fundamental to the success of any business.

“We’ve seen first-hand the benefits of supporting those with learning disabilities, welcoming some exceptional talent into our business in partnership with the Down’s Syndrome Association and Aurora Foxes.

“But this research shows there is a real opportunity to empower more businesses to embrace this wealth of talent.

“We hope that by sharing our experience, we can inspire other employers to provide much-needed job opportunities for those with learning disabilities, and help them reap the benefits that a diverse workforce brings – from employee engagement to business performance.”

The power of employment for those with a learning disability cannot be underestimated

Alison Thwaite, Down’s Syndrome Association

According to the British Association for Supported Employment, employment rates of those with a learning disability have fallen to 4.8 percent.

And 60 percent, of the 500 employers also polled by the hotel brand, felt UK companies are not doing enough to be inclusive.

Some of the main barriers to recruiting these adults include not having suitable roles (30 percent), or the right infrastructure in place to offer support (26 percent) – while 21 percent cited the cost to the business when it comes to additional training.

However, even when they get a job, 62 percent of those with learning disabilities find it hard to stay in employment – with 45 percent blaming this on the company not being equipped to support those with a learning disability.

And 41 percent felt they didn’t have the right help from their team.

The best solutions to aid those with disabilities in workplace included training for all employees (39 percent), and training for managers (38 percent).

Among employers who had hired people with a learning disability, a massive 89 percent said that person or people had exceeded or met expectations.

However, just 42 percent of those polled, via OnePoll, would be likely to hire someone with a learning disability in the future.

Nearly half (46 percent) had no training on how to hire or manage those with learning disabilities, and 36 percent admitted they do not offer any ongoing support to help those people.

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Helping employees become more empathetic (62 percent), creating a stronger team bond (48 percent), and demonstrating the benefits of having a diverse team (45 percent), were noted as the tangible benefits of a diverse hiring process.

Shomari Burford, aged 24, from London, has Down’s Syndrome, and began his career at Hilton in 2018.

He now works in concierge, helping guests and supporting the hotel’s operations team.

He said: “I love working here. It’s great to see a lot of guests coming in and out the hotel, and I really enjoy helping them.

“That’s my favourite part of the job, as well as working with my team, who have all been very supportive.”

Alison Thwaite, employment development manager at the Down’s Syndrome Association, added: “The findings highlight the critical need for companies to prioritise training and support for decision-makers when it comes to welcoming people with learning disabilities into the workplace.

“As well as providing benefits for businesses, the power of employment for those with a learning disability cannot be underestimated.

“Finding work can help individuals increase their circle of friends, build self-esteem and confidence, increase independence, and support both personal and professional development.”

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