Employment rates for people with learning disabilities, learning difficulties or who are autistic have remained consistently low for many years. In fact, nationally only 5.1% of people with learning disabilities, known to their local authority, are in paid employment. This is often due to barriers accessing the opportunities, support and training they need to get into paid work, and onto a career path that suits them. Finding your perfect job is not just about money, it is about independence, feeling valued and being part of something.
This year’s National Careers Week (6-11 March) has the theme ‘Together’, where we can all inspire, motivate and empower people, to create positive change for everyone. We can do this by encouraging people to get the support they need to move into the world of work for the first time or to find a career more suited to their skills and needs. Bristol aims to be a city of ambition and opportunity for all, despite any extra challenges people may face in day-to-day life.
Through We Work for Everyone, a regional employment programme managed by the Employment, Skills and Learning Team that covers Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset, we are helping to break down barriers and get more people with learning disabilities, learning difficulties or who are autistic into paid work. All job seekers that contact us will receive one to one support, help with writing their CVs, advice for interviews and access to computers and IT support. This support continues even if you find a role, as we know the importance of having a continued support network behind you to give you confidence and help you to thrive.
Since starting in 2021, WE Work for Everyone has engaged with over 1000 participants, businesses and voluntary and community sector organisations. We offer employability advice and guidance, and supported internships, and in the last 12 months we have supported over 150 people into paid work.
Scott is a great example of someone who recently secured a paid job. His ‘WE Work’ Navigator helped him start a job with GXO. The role matches his talents and interests with the needs of his employer.
Previously, Scott travelled all over the world working as a monster truck driver and mechanic. He contracted meningitis and as a result, lost a great deal of confidence in his skills and abilities. Literacy had always been an issue, but it became an even greater challenge for Scott after his illness. As traditional recruitment asks for written applications, it made it impossible for him to independently apply for work.
With help from his Navigator, he realised he wanted to get into teaching, helping children and adults to recycle and repurpose old toys as remote-control recreational vehicles. They researched several local and national organisations and Scott now has access to a mentor for ten weeks to further explore his passion and develop a business plan. While building his dream career, Scott also needed a paid job to support his day to day living and reduce his isolation at home. He successfully applied for an operative role specialising in vehicle maintenance at GXO. Access to Work also supplied Scott with a digital assistive reading device so he could read safety signs and notices when at work.
He is now carrying out a key role for the business and has even improved productivity by making improvements which have resulted in fewer machinery breakdowns. These changes will now be rolled out across the business.
Many employers in Bristol are already Disability Confident but we are keen to hear from even more local businesses and organisations that want to be part of this movement towards creating more diverse and inclusive workforces. Having increased diversity has rewarded employers by offering a hardworking and reliable workforce, with higher staff morale, reduced staff turnover and sickness, improved reputation and in turn, greater customer loyalty. WE Work are happy to support any employers looking to diversify their workforce and learn more supporting people with learning disabilities, learning difficulties and autistic people.
What better time to find out more than National Careers Week? To speak to someone about We Work for Everyone and how you can get involved, please call 0117 9223330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org