Launch of Comprehensive Employment Strategy for people with disabilities (CES).
2 Oct 2015
Congress (2 October 2015) welcomes the long awaited launch by the Taoiseach today of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for people with disabilities (CES). The first three years of the plan contains many concrete time bound actions that lay the building blocks necessary to increase the number of people with disabilities at work. The strategy is badly needed given that people with disabilities are only half as likely to be in employment as others of working age.
Congress will work on many different levels to ensure that the overall goal of the strategy that people with disabilities can get a job and enjoy a rewarding career becomes a reality. We have engaged with the NDA and others on the development of the CES and provided an input to the strategy through two disability conferences in 2013 and 2014. It is our view that that the role of employers and workers is central to the strategy and we particularly welcome Strategic Priority 6 in this regard.
The raising of the Public Service employment target from 3% to 6% is particularly welcome and we look forward to an examination of new recruitment methods and a robust data collection process that provides an accurate picture of the employment of people with disabilities in the public sector. The public sector has to be a leader in this area and it is unacceptable that public sector unions still have to take reasonable accommodation cases for their members with disabilities in this day and age.
We also welcome the proposed employer’s network and the development of an employer’s disability support service including a peer led helpline. Congress will work with government and employer agencies to ensure that relevant well researched guidance is available to all employers and workers so that such actions are based on solid evidence.
Congress, through the participation of our national network of centres in the recent Disability Activation Project, has been working towards inclusive job creation. Our Training Options programme, which provided training and skills upgrades to people with disabilities to improve their prospects of securing work was a great success with 412 learners having completed the process, 40 of whom went on to be trained as mentors and 125 employers engaging with us to provide work experience. 69 people have gained employment as a result. The Training Options programme has been described as "a model" and described by participants as ‘life changing’ and by families as massive support to their home life. Barriers to participation included transport, childcare costs, fear of loss of income from loss of payments and the added cost of disability to people’s lives and any effective strategy will have to work towards solutions to all of these issues. It is our view that it should have been mainstreamed into national training and job creation initiatives and a source of considerable regret that ours, and indeed other projects, have not been maintained.
CES Launch: Photo by Justine CarnecFinally, we would hope that the CES will form an integral part of the next version of the Action Plan for Jobs as it is unacceptable that people with disabilities are excluded from mainstream employment strategies. The progression of equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities will require strong leadership and adequate resources – not least to assist people with disabilities in dealing with the added costs of participation in the labour market they face.
We welcome the formation of the implemementation group under the stewardship of Fergus Finlay and hope that people with disabilities, employers and trade unions will be participants in the group.
There will be further reflection on what trade unions can do at our upcoming disability seminar later this month
Press release here