Fergus Finlay publishes his second Annual Report on the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for Persons with Disabilities
Today, 9th March 2018, Fergus Finlay, in his capacity as Independent Chair of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy Implementation Group published his Annual Report for 2017. The Comprehensive Employment Strategy Implementation Group, which is coordinated by the Department of Justice and Equality, monitors the implementation of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities 2015 – 2024. The Strategy sets out a ten-year approach to ensuring that people with disabilities who are able to, and want to, work are supported and enabled to do so. The Report is Mr Finlay’s second since the launch of the Strategy in 2015.
In the introduction to his report, and throughout, Mr Finlay referred to a number of positive measures that had been implemented during the year, and that represented significant progress under important headings.
However, he also made the point that people with disabilities are still only half as likely to be in employment as others of working age (between 20 and 65). Census 2016 figures show that the employment rate for people with disabilities of working age is 37% compared to a rate of 73% for people of working age without a disability. The unemployment rate amongst persons with a disability was 26.3%, more than double the 12.9% rate for the population as a whole.
“These figures,” Mr. Finlay said, “demonstrate ongoing inequality and discrimination. We will fail to address that discrimination if we continue to fail to get education right, to set services right, to get the infrastructure around employment right, and to get attitudes right.
If people with disabilities continue to fail to benefit from a recovering and growing economy, and from a demand among employers for loyal, committed and productive workers, it will be our failure, not theirs.”
He also expressed the hope in his Report that the Minister of State with special responsibility for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath might find it possible to call together an informal “summit” of employer and trade union bodies to start putting in place the kind of awareness campaign that is necessary, and to call out champions from the world of work to end the ongoing discrimination in this area.
Note for Editors
The Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities 2015 - 2024 was launched in October 2015. The Strategy sets out a ten-year approach to ensuring that people with disabilities who are able to, and want to, work are supported and enabled to do so. It is a cross-government approach that brings together actions by different departments and state agencies in a concerted effort to address the barriers and challenges that impact on employment of people with disabilities. In tandem with that, it seeks to ensure there will be joined-up services and supports at local level to support individuals on their journey into and in employment. The Strategy will be reviewed and renewed every three years.
The Strategy's six strategic priorities are:
Provide bridges and supports into work
Build skills, capacity and independence
Make work pay
Promote job retention and re-entry to work
Provide coordinated and seamless support
The Strategy contains commitments in relation to:
An increase in the public service employment target of people with disabilities on a phased basis from 3% to 6%.
Special public service competitions for people with disabilities and the opening up of alternative recruitment channels for people with disabilities.
The provision of an NDA-assisted employer helpline to provide expert guidance and peer support to employers in relation to the employment of staff with disabilities. (This was established in January 2016).
Mr Finlay’s Annual Report for 2017 is available on the Department of Justice and Equality’s website.