The low proportion of people with a learning disability in paid work is due in part to the attitudes of the general public.
New research released today by Mencap as part of Learning Disability Work Experience Week reveals that just 52% of the public say they would prefer to work for a company that employs people with a learning disability.
Some 4% said they would prefer not to work with people with a learning disability, with the remaining 44% of respondents saying they are unsure. 62% of those surveyed have never worked with a colleague with a learning disability.
Currently, only 5.8% of people with a learning disability known to local authorities are currently in employment.
Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap said: “This research and public reactions really highlights how a lack of understanding around what people with a learning disability are capable of is a crucial factor in the woefully low employment rates experienced by people with a learning disability.”
Mencap believe that in order to overcome such low levels of employment, people with learning disabilities must be given better access to apprenticeships and internships, as well as more support given to employers that are willing to take on staff with a learning disability.
The government should also consider reforming the Work Capability Assessment which continues to classify people with a learning disability as being ‘fit-for-work’.
Tragelles added: “Employers we work with consistently tell us how with a little effort they’ve made their workplaces inclusive to people with a learning disability and encourage others to take the same steps.
“While employers can play a big role, the Government must play its part by opening up apprenticeships to people with a learning disability, reforming the failed ‘fit-for-work test’, offering more support to employers and putting an end to a benefits system that can trap people with a learning disability in a cycle of poverty.”