Tag Archives: jobs

Why we need to see changes in support for disabled people in work

Today we are publishing the findings of a poll which asked disabled people about their experiences of looking for work and being in employment. 58 per cent of disabled people have felt at risk of losing their job because of their impairment.

Tomorrow new statistics will be published that will unveil the size of the disability employment gap. This is the difference between the employment rate of disabled people and non-disabled people, which has remained at around 30 percentage points for over a decade.

The Green Paper on Work, Health and Disability was launched in October and outlines the Government’s thinking about the future of employment support. The accompanying consultation provides an excellent opportunity to feedback on the document and shape future Government policy but closes at the end of the week.

New findings on disabled people’s experiences in the workplace

We surveyed over 200 working-age disabled adults in employment and uncovered that 58 per cent of disabled people have felt at risk of losing their job because of their impairment. To address this, we would like to see Government introduce a new flexible approach towards sick leave and the Equality and Human Rights Commission publish a new code of practice on workplace adjustments.

Text reads: Fifty eight percent of disabled people have felt at risk of losing their job because of their disability
Source: Scope polling of 216 working age disabled adults in employment in England, December 2016

Our research also unearthed how one in five disabled people surveyed (18 per cent) had requested support or an adjustment but their employer didn’t provide them. Employers are legally required to try and make adjustments to support disabled people in the workplace. One in four disabled people (24 per cent) say their current employer does not support them to do their job.

Scope would like to see schemes which support disabled people in work, such as Access to Work, better funded and publicised so that employees and employers are more aware of their benefits.

Workplace bullying or harassment

Text reads: 53 per cent of disabled people have experienced bullying or harassment at work
Source: Scope polling of 216 working age disabled adults in employment in England, December 2016

Our research revealed that 53 per cent of disabled people have experienced bullying or harassment at work, 21 per cent of disabled people had been bullied by colleagues and 27 per cent had experienced bullying from their employer. One in five (21 per cent) go as far as not disclosing their disability to employers, whilst one in eight (13 per cent) of those disabled people we spoke to felt they had been overlooked for a promotion.

Government are rightly focussed on removing barriers to get more disabled people into work, but the barriers that prevent people from progressing and advancing their careers, once in work, must also be addressed. The Green Paper highlights the importance of working closer with employers and changing attitudes towards disability, so it’s important the Government improve conditions for disabled people in the workplace.

Government consultation on disability employment 

Scope want to see the Government deliver on its commitment to halve the disability employment gap and to deliver a strategy that tackles the barriers disabled people face to entering, staying and progressing in work.

The Green Paper is an opportunity for disabled people to share experiences of being in and out of work and feedback on the Government’s plans. At Scope, we think there remains a huge amount of work to be done to tackle the barriers disabled people face entering and staying in work. It’s vital that the whole Government now listens to disabled people’s views on how to do this.

Read more about how you can respond to the Green Paper consultation

Diary of a job hunter with cerebral palsy: interviews

Self-confessed ‘geek’ Jessica Talbott has three degrees in maths. She’s just finished a short contract for a great company where she could work from home, but now she’s on the hunt for a permanent job again. 

She’s writing a series of blogs for us about her search for work: job applications, interviews, rejections, warts and all. Here she talks about her experience of taking her dad along to interviews as her interpreter. 

Growing up with unclear speech

I used to filter friends according to whether they took the time to listen that bit more carefully to what I wanted to say. Children do everything at 100 miles an hour, so I never blamed the ones who wanted to move on to the next game. Now, my partner understands every word, and I realise that I took people not understanding the odd mutter for granted, because he knows when I’m being rude – it’s very unfair!

Preparing companies ahead of my interview

Jess smiling, and sitting in front of her desktop computerI don’t need an understanding friend when I go for a job interview; I just need a person who sees enthusiasm, intellect and commitment. As I mentioned in my last blog, I’m a bit of a stalker. In my experience, it’s better to email companies directly to offer assistance and to explain about my disability. If they want to meet, I clearly reiterate that my speech is unclear, and that I need an assistant to accompany me in case they struggle to understand at first. It’s important it shows I care about making it easier for them, and not that I’m special and need some kind of entourage. My dad or stepmum help out on these occasions – they are both professionals and are really supportive. I try to keep it from the company they are my mum and dad,  but dad sometimes slips! Besides, the chances of me having a 60-year-old male carer are quite slim, so I’m sure they guess.

Getting ready to impress

My voice is negatively affected by fatigue, anxiety and stress. Interviews clearly stir up the latter two to a great degree if I’m not careful. And if I’m anxious and stressed I don’t get much sleep, so it’s really important I keep calm. The day before the interview is about relaxing; I try to do all preparation before then and get a lot of rest and sleep.

Overcoming obstacles

You learn tricks over the years when you have speaking problems; if people don’t understand something, you re-phrase the statement or use more simple words. In an interview, ideally you don’t want to simplify things, as you want to demonstrate you know the technical language of the business.

I tend to brief my dad on words or concepts that I might want to bring up, but sometimes even he finds it hard if it’s a word unfamiliar to him. One time I was determined to ask an intelligent question using various buzz words, but was forced to simplify due to the interviewers knowing the word, but not understanding my voice, and dad knowing my voice but not the word!

Be flexible and resourceful

Each interview is different. Some ask about the practicalities of you working with them, so it’s important to know what you’ll need and where to get it. Reassure them it’ll all be possible and their company will take on you, not a headache of sorting support out for you.

If luck isn’t on my side and I don’t get the job, I ask for feedback and make it clear I’d still be available for work. This takes a little bit of cheek, but I’m so glad my step-mum encouraged me, as it got me two short-term contracts this year. It’s good to take the feedback and brush up on skills they feel you lack, as it shows you’ve listened.

My four month contract that just ended was great. Lots of people worked from home, so practicalities were never an issue. I could take part in conferences and meetings via phone or messenger. Yes calls were hard but being so junior didn’t really need to speak up at meetings! Over time my colleagues got used to my voice and were good at using email rather than the phone when communicating with me. Once my foot was in the door, my work spoke for me and I was just another colleague. In fact, due to staff leaving, I pretty much had my own project.

Enjoy it!

Above all, enjoy it! I love what I do, so I get in the zone and show them Jess the mathematician, not Jess with cerebral palsy and dad in the corner.

If you would like to chat to Jess, you can join her on our online community. 

And if you’re disabled and looking for work, check out these great employment tips.

15 ways to search for jobs using social media

Future Ambitions is a brand new service aimed at supporting young disabled people aged 16 to 25 in Hackney, Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets into long-term sustainable employment. Here are their tips to search for jobs online and using social media:

1) Ask your friends
Post a simple, polite, professional status asking if anyone knows of a place that is hiring. You may even want to be a more specific about your needs. Ask if anyone knows of an open position in the area you want to work in. Chances are that at least one person knows about a potential job opportunity. Even better, you may have someone ask for an interview right then and there!

2) Search
Put jobs into the Google or a company’s search box and see what comes up!

3) Like company Facebook pages
What are your interests? Like pages of companies you’d like to work for. They will often post their jobs on Facebook as it’s cheaper than traditional advertising.

4) Follow companies on Twitter
Follow companies you might want to work for. They may post links to their jobs on their Twitter feeds.

5) Search hashtags
#job is a good way to see jobs posted on Twitter or Facebook, you might need to narrow down the search to UK or local area only #job

It’s best to search Twitter at times when local companies would be posting jobs, for example, 9am -5pm.

6) Job search on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is like an online CV so follow the same rules:
• Be clear with your objectives in your personal profile
• List your most recent job or training first
• Be professional
• Be honest

8) Follow companies on LinkedIn
You can also follow a company on LinkedIn, meaning all the jobs they advertise come up in your news feed.

9) Be consistent online
Use your real name on social media, keep a consistent tone and think of it as your personal empire. Of course your Facebook ‘About’ will be different from your LinkedIn profile description. If you keep the general tone similar, you’ll look in control.

10) Google yourself
A bit obvious this one, but don’t just check the first page. Beady-eyed employers will go a few pages back.

11) Request your Twitter archive
Go into your Settings. Click the Account tab. You can find how to request an archive containing all the tweets you’ve ever sent. Check over the last two years. Use programs like Tweet Eraser to search for the offending tweets.

12) Find hidden vacancies
Many employers will fill vacancies by word-of-mouth, headhunting or recruiting internally. Knowing how to get yourself in contention for these roles could give you a major boost in finding your next role.

13) Use your network
Using your network is the other main way to find hidden positions. Past employers, colleagues, friends, family and just about anyone you meet can form your network. Serious jobseekers treat even the most casual of meetings as a potential job lead.

14) Make prospective calls
Even if an employer doesn’t have any current vacancies, they may be willing to create a position if an exceptional applicant comes along. Contact companies to ask if they have any opportunities for somebody with your skills. Call the manager of the department you’re looking to work in but avoid busy times. Follow up with an email, thanking them for their time and attach a copy of your CV.

15) Contact us
Future Ambitions is supported by the Credit Suisse EMEA Foundation. For more information, call 07807 799 928 or email future@scope.org.uk

A driver wouldn’t let me on the bus. When I complained, they offered me a job – #100days100stories

Guest post by Jean from London. Jean has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a painful condition which means she is prone to muscle tears and dislocated joints. She uses a wheelchair most of the time. Jean is an active campaigner for disability rights. She is sharing her story as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.

At the beginning of 2013, I had to put a complaint in to a London bus company because a driver refused to deploy the ramp and let me on.

Instead of dismissing my complaint, the company actually asked me to go in and speak to the management about how disabled passengers should be treated.

Then they asked me to go in again and speak to the bus drivers – and after a couple of months they said, “How would you feel about us paying you for it?”

Jean holding the catBefore that, I hadn’t been able to work for seven years. Part of the time this was because I was unwell, but for a lot of the time it was because employers weren’t prepared to support my needs or make adaptations.

A couple of places I applied even offered to give me an interview, but then withdrew the offer because their offices weren’t wheelchair accessible. It was ridiculous.

Getting support

My new bosses have been really supportive, even offering to contribute towards a new reclining wheelchair, which I will need at work.

However, when I applied for funding from Access to Work for a support worker and a better wheelchair, I was rejected.

One of their reasons was that I wouldn’t be working enough hours, and would still need to claim benefits. But how am I supposed to build up my hours, and start to come off benefits, without the right level of support and equipment?

At the moment, my fiancé has to take me to work and act as my carer. It is difficult – we find it hard to balance his being my partner and being my employee. When he doesn’t do things how I want them, it feels very hard to tell him so.

Add in his own health issues, and wanting to pursue his own interests which have to constantly be put on a back burner, and it causes conflict in our private time.

I felt this was unfair so I appealed, and with the help of my MP I was successful in getting funding. I’m now in the process of finding a support worker, and Access to Work also paid towards the cost of the wheelchair and a small travel allowance.

My work

I’ve looked at how the company views and treats disabled passengers, and made some recommendations for improvements.

I’ve also run disability awareness training for bus drivers. We simulate various impairments – such as being blind or mobility impaired – and ask staff to try to move around inside the bus while it is in motion. It demonstrates how difficult travelling can be for disabled passengers.

I go to conferences and events, and we do a lot of work with mental health and learning disability charities.

One thing I’ve noticed is that disabled people will come and speak to me because they see me in a wheelchair. The fact that I have an understanding of what their situation might be seems to make a big difference.

My work is challenging, fun and rewarding, and it brings confidence and self-worth. I feel like I’m contributing something and making an improvement. Even though the majority of my income is still benefit-based, I am hoping that I can slowly build up my hours.

My employers saw something in me and built a new role around my abilities, and are investing quite heavily in me to ensure I have everything I need to fulfil my potential. I love it.

Read the rest of the stories in our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.

Representing disability throughout the BBC

The BBC is inviting disabled people with digital skills to a ‘Get In’ Day to hear about career opportunities. The event is at New Broadcasting House on Thursday 28 August 2014.

Ahead of the day Toby Mildon, from BBC Future Media – the team responsible for designing, developing and running digital services like iPlayer, websites and Red Button – talks about life at the BBC. He’s also a TV Disability Activator, working to make sure disability is represented within the business and on TV.

What do you do for the BBC?

I manage ‘user experience’ and design projects for news, the website or apps, and help commission digital agencies to do work for us. I also look after our Diversity Action Plan, which is an initiative to encourage more disabled people to join the BBC in both technological areas, and across the business. I advise our Director of TV on how disability is portrayed on our screens.

Every day is different – I might be brainstorming a project plan, writing a report for our leadership team detailing how a project is going, facilitating a creative workshop, drafting a contract, arranging pitches or meeting a head of commissioning to discuss disability stories and presenters; the list goes on.

What is the secret of your success?

I think it’s important to have three things in life: a back bone (and mine is reinforced from a spinal fusion!), a wish bone and a funny bone. If you have determination, dreams and a sense of humour, you’ll go far. I’ve managed to ‘tune into’ and be passionate about jobs that inspire me, which in turn motivates me. I believe in the BBC’s mission to inform, educate and entertain the world, and as long as I’m making a difference, I’ll enjoy my work. I’ve had several mentors and coaches to help me accelerate my career, including one through a Creative Diversity Network mentoring scheme.

What do you like about the BBC and working for it?

I believe in our mission, and I am proud of the high quality and world-class services and content that we produce. I work with really talented people who continue to inspire me. I’m also autonomous in my work – my line manager doesn’t micro-manage me, and I relish this freedom. For example, I’m able to write this article on the train so I can leave the office early, which helps with my life/work balance, and therefore my health.

I like that there’s quite a few disabled people in the office, so I’m not the ‘odd one out’. I have 24/7 care and my PA accompanies me to work to help with everything from feeding and going to the toilet, to moving around the office and scanning documents. The staff working at the Access Unit met me on my first day to assess me for what reasonable adjustments I needed, and later when my arms weakened, they made further adjustments, such as putting Dragon Dictate on my laptop.

What do you think are the main false perceptions around disability and employment?

I believe there are three top false perceptions about disabled people: That they are too costly to hire i.e. adjustments needed and sick leave etc; They don’t have the same stamina as non-disabled folk; They are somehow less intelligent.

All three are complete rubbish, and have been disproven by academics and government research time and time again! Disabled people need the confidence to see themselves as resilient and resourceful individuals, which is crucial for work. It’ll be a slow change because it’s about altering staunch attitudes. We need a combination of direct action, policy lobbying and disabled role models spreading positive vibes to make a difference.

Finally, what advice would you give to individuals with disabilities wishing to work at the BBC or in media?

If you’re the kind of person who is happy to take a leap of faith, just apply now through BBC Careers. If you’re fresh out of university, or have little work experience, check out our twice yearly extend internships for disabled people. If you need more input then seek careers help from a professional coach or mentor. A lot of it is about making connections and networking, so start talking to people and getting yourself known, online or in person. It’s so easy today to make connections through websites such as Meetup, LinkedIn or Twitter – you could even put a tweet out to try and organise work shadowing or work experience.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to toby.mildon@bbc.co.uk by attaching a copy of your CV. Spaces are very limited and by invitation only. The BBC will provide Reasonable Adjustments for anyone selected to attend.

A version of this blog first appeared on Disability Horizons.

A million futures: halving the disability employment gap

Today we published a new report exploring disabled people’s working lives. The report – ‘A million futures’ – shows that last year alone, 220,000 more disabled people fell out of work than found a new job.

We wanted to explore why disabled people are struggling to stay in jobs.

Our new research with hundreds of disabled people found that a lack of flexibility in the workplace is a critical issue.

“I, like thousands of others, fall into the grey area of too disabled to hold down a job without health implications, yet not disabled enough to get help from the Government.” – Sarah, Isle of Wight

Nearly half (48%) of the 700 respondents to a Scope survey said that flexible working time and practices could have helped them stay in work.

Many disabled people told us that a key benefit of flexible working is that it can allow them to manage changes in their lives related to disability, or to manage a fluctuating condition, or recover from treatment.

Yet our survey found that only one in three had been offered the flexibility they needed.

“If I’d been given the opportunity, I could have sat down with them and said ‘look, this is what I’m capable of doing, this is what would help me get back into the workplace” – Jane, West Midlands

As a result, too many disabled people and their families find themselves relying on taking sick leave to manage this need for flexibility – often against their wishes.

Over half (60%) of those on long-term sick leave are disabled people. Once in sick leave, it can be very difficult to return to work.

Providing better support for disabled people must be a priority for Government and employers – and can bring benefits for everyone.

For those disabled people who are able to continue working, it means they can continue working, contributing, and taking home a pay packet.

Employers are able to keep hold of the knowledge, experience and contacts that often experienced disabled people can bring.

Crucially, better in-work support can bring benefits to the Government, by rebalancing spending on expensive programmes back to supporting those in work.

For more details, see the full report.

Find out more about our previous reports:

“It’s like baby steps, one step after another” – Michael’s story

Landing your first “proper” job is tough for many young people in the UK. For 19-year-old Michael, having a learning disability has made that challenge all the harder. After a disrupted education, the East Londoner left school without his GCSEs and with his confidence badly dented. But everything started to change for Michael when Scope’s First Impressions, First Experiences programme set him up with a work placement at London Overground. 

Michael's face, smiling
Scope’s First Impressions, First Experiences programme gave Michael the confidence to begin his dream career.

When I was in school my confidence was knocked. I was diagnosed with my condition in year eight. I was diagnosed because I had problems with my attendance. My mum thought I might have a bit of a learning disability because she works with kids herself. The day I was diagnosed with autism I felt a whole lot of relief.

I thought that without many skills and GCSEs it wasn’t going to be worth applying for things like apprenticeships. I thought I had no chance. Before I came to Scope I thought to myself I wasn’t going to get anywhere. But from day one at the course things started to look better.

When I first started the course, I was down in general and didn’t have much self-confidence. I couldn’t see how I’d get to where I wanted to be. I’ve always had a passion for transport, and working on buses was my dream job.

Getting my first work experience 

First thing in 2013 I got the news that London Overground wanted me – brilliant. When I started with London Overground at the end of January, things picked up a lot more.

The Scope course dramatically improved my confidence and filled that gap that was holding me back. It gave me the chance to do work experience with London Overground, where I helped and assisted passengers with tickets and travel enquiries at Surrey Quays station. This work experience helped me to think “I can do this” and gave me a more positive outlook on life.

Now, I’m working part time at Stagecoach as a Customer Assistant on the number 15 bus route from Tower Hill to Trafalgar Square. I check tickets, offer travel advice to customers, supervise the platform and assist passengers with getting on and off the bus safely. I really love my job and I’m hoping that it will help me to achieve my dream of becoming a bus driver. Without First Impressions, First Experiences, I don’t think I’d be here.

A new outlook on life

I’ve always got a smile on my face and I’m cheery with customers. When they see that, they are more likely to have a chance of being a bit happier. Even a “good morning” or a “hello” makes someone feel a bit cheered up.

It’s like baby steps, one step after another. One step at a time is always the best policy and disabled people should be entitled to work no matter if it’s in an office or what.

When it comes down to it, go for it, no matter what way you take, you are going to get where you want to be.

Find out more about the First Impressions, First Experiences work training.

How does disability influence young people’s experience of the job market?

Guest post from Katy Jones who is a researcher within the socio-economic programme at The Work Foundation.

Today’s young people face a tough jobs market. Almost one million 16-24 year olds are unemployed in the UK, with crisis levels persisting since the recession hit half a decade ago. For the individuals involved, this often means a personal crisis, but youth unemployment is profoundly damaging both to our economy and wider society, with an estimated cost of around £28 billion.

However, young people’s experiences will be different according to a range of factors including demographic characteristics, qualification levels and the jobs available in local areas. The Work Foundation’s new report for the TUC – The Gender Jobs Split – investigates how young people’s labour market experiences differ by gender and how this interacts with other characteristics including disability.

Whilst small sample sizes mean we cannot draw any firm conclusions, our analysis suggests that disability acts to further constrain young men and women’s labour market experiences. Our report finds much higher levels of unemployment amongst young disabled people compared to their peers without a disability – and this is particularly the case for young disabled men. In 2011, 19% of disabled young men were unemployed, compared to 15% of non-disabled young men.

Barriers to work

Looking at differences in the benefits claimed by young disabled men and women can give us some idea of the different kinds of barriers to work faced. We found the reason more young men claim ESA, incapacity related and other disability benefits than young women is largely explained by higher numbers reporting learning difficulties and hyperkinetic syndromes (e.g. ADHD). In a previous report from The Work Foundation we also found evidence of an increasing incidence of mental health problems among young people not in employment, education or training (or NEET), with the proportion of those reporting a health problem and citing depression/bad nerves almost doubling from 8% in 2001 to 15% in 2011.

The occupational divide

Getting into work is only part of the story. The kind of jobs which young people start their working lives can have a big impact on their future opportunities. Again, our data suggest the occupations young people work in are constrained by both disability and gender. Young disabled men, for example, are more likely to be in lower skilled and lower paid work than non-disabled young men – the evidence shows they are overrepresented in elementary (unskilled) and caring and leisure occupations, and underrepresented in skilled trades, other manual work and professional occupations. Young disabled women are also most under-represented in professional occupations, but are less likely to be in unskilled work compared to their non-disabled peers. Instead, young disabled women are more likely to work in sales and customer services, caring, leisure and administrative and secretarial occupations.

From our data, it is difficult to understand what is driving these differences. But previous research finds that whilst disabled and non-disabled young people have similar career aspirations, outcomes are more likely to fall short of these for young disabled people.

It is vital that young disabled men and women are able to access the support they need to make a successful transition into the labour market. We argue that this must be tailored for different groups of young people, including those with disabilities and caring responsibilities. Any help which allows young people to enter and sustain work should recognise and challenge the different barriers often faced by young women and men. In addition, we think young people should be supported in the first few years of employment, rather than just focusing on getting them into any job.

Young people’s early labour market experiences can have a huge impact across working life. Whilst today’s youth labour market is a particularly harsh place to be, our research suggests that young people with disabilities appear to be even more restricted in their choice of occupation and ability to take up work. To echo Scope, “disabled people need specialised support but they’re not getting it”. It is vital that support to help young people enter and sustain work recognises and effectively challenges the different barriers often faced by young women and men.

Read the report from the Work Foundation. Scope runs a career training course for young disabled people in east London.