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Why decision makers should listen to people with a learning disability about jobs

This week is Learning Disability Week and we have a blog from Mencap’s Campaigns Assistants who have a learning disability, interviewing each other about employment and learning disabilities.

For Learning Disability Week 2015, we want more people to know what a learning disability is – and that includes employers. Members of Mencap’s campaigns team give their thoughts on what the barriers are to finding work, and what needs to change so employers wise-up.

What are your jobs?

Ciara – I’m a full time Campaigns Assistant in Mencap’s Campaigns and activism team. I go out and talk to groups of people with a learning disability about our campaigns and encourage them to sign up. I also go and talk to MPs about the issues people with a learning disability face.

Leroy – I am a Campaigns Assistant also. I do a lot of work on the Changing Places campaign.

Ismail – I am the Parliamentary Affairs Assistant. I work with MP’s and Lords in parliament.

Josie – I am a Campaigns Assistant and I also work on the switchboard at Mencap.

Youssef – I am a Campaigns Assistant / Engager. I like to talk!

What are the barriers to employment that people with a learning disability face?

Leroy – Discrimination at the interview stage. Employers won’t give us a chance because we have a disability.

Josie – Who knows! They should give us a try!

Leroy – We’re not given the opportunity.

Ismail – The interview process isn’t accessible. Work trials are more accessible for people with a learning disability.

Leroy – Some employers are not prepared to make reasonable adjustments to help people at work.

Youssef – Not having accessible documents is a barrier. Like application forms being very long and complicated.

Ismail – Employers not knowing about Access to Work is a barrier. Access to Work can help employers to pay for the extra costs of employing a person with a disability.

Youssef – I think another barrier is people with a learning disability not knowing their rights.

Ismail – Especially around minimum wage and people not getting paid properly.

Ciara – It is important that decision makers listen to people with a learning disability about jobs because we have a right to work and we want to work. Only 7% of people with a learning disability have a job, but at Mencap we know people with a learning disability want to work.

What are some ways people with a learning disability can be supported at work?

Josie – Employers should talk to the person and be patient. Listen to what we need.

Youssef – Shadowing more experienced staff so people can learn the job and see what they do. Work experience and work trials before you get a job to be better prepared.

Leroy – Some jobs can be ring fenced for people with a learning disability. This means that only people with a learning disability can apply for them.

Ismail – Job Carving is cutting up a role into different parts that can become separate jobs.

Ciara – Employers need to make reasonable adjustments for the person when they get the job so they can have the right support to do a job to a good standard and be able to keep the job.

Leroy – Access to Work can pay for job coaches and supporters that can support people with a learning disability to learn the job and in work.

Youssef – If you have trouble travelling it can also help you to get to work.

What would you say about people with a learning disability getting into work to Priti Patel, the Employment Minister?

Leroy – I would say that employers need to think of the person not the disability first and give people a fair chance.

Ciara – I would say to Priti Patel the Employment Minister that it is really important that people with a learning disability are able to get a job with the right support.

Ismail – People don’t want to be felt sorry for. We want the chance to show we can do a job of our choice like any one else. Employment for people with a learning disability is only 7% but many more want to work. I don’t think this is good enough.

Youssef – I want the government to realise that people need help to find a job. They need something to fall back on and get extra help to find jobs – like a pathway.

Ismail – People should have a choice of jobs and get the right support. Access to Work should be known by all employers. This would make sure that people with a learning disability can get the best job for them and get the right support for that individual to do well.

Ciara – People with a learning disability make really good employees and that employers need to hire more employees with a learning disability.

Visit Mencap’s website to find out more about Learning Disability Week and how to get involved or learn about how to become an Inclusive Employer

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