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'Left behind': People with disabilities four times less likely to be employed

A person with a disability is also twice as likely to leave a place of employment.

Image: Shutterstock/nullplus

A NEW REPORT has found that people living with disabilities are four times less likely to be employed in Ireland, leading to disability activists calling for more to be done to address the problem.

A new report from the ESRI has found that despite wanting to work, people with a disability are less likely to get a job and more likely to leave employment even when their impairment does not create difficulties with everyday activities.

The study commissioned by the National Disability Authority found:

  • 31% of working-age people with a disability were at work compared to 71% of those without a disability.
  • Most people with a disability had worked at some stage but it was often more than four years ago.
  • Across the period, people with a disability were more likely to exit than enter employment. For those without a disability, the rate of job entry picked up in the recovery period and the rate of exit dropped. However, there was little sign of a recovery for people with a disability by 2015.

Development manager of the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) Joan O’Donnell said that the report is yet again more evidence that not enough is being done to help those with disabilities enter and, more importantly, remain in employment.

“People with disabilities were forgotten about during the recession and they’re being forgotten about now. There needs to be an attitude change in Ireland. There are so many options for employers which are not being utilised. There are grants which they can avail of. But sometimes there is fear on their part, fear of saying the wrong thing and other things along the same lines.

“Four out of five of us will acquire a disability during our working lives. This isn’t something which can be kicked down the road. We need action and we need it now.”

According to the report, if education, age, gender, marital status and other personal and family characteristics are taken out, people with a disability remain about half as likely to enter employment.

The report added that areas of specific importance to people with a disability include the retention of medical cards when they move into employment, support for the additional costs of disability itself and flexibility in how jobs are structured including in hours and job tasks.

Dorothy Watson, an author of the report, added: “Efforts to ensure jobs for all of those with a disability who want to work need to proceed on two fronts: both increasing the capacity of those not at work to get jobs and ensuring that those currently at work can retain their jobs.”

Read: This is the number of ‘current smokers’ in Ireland today >

Read: Investigation launched after 10-week-old baby critically injured in Louth home >

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