Just under one million adults have a diagnosed learning disability in the UK; that’s approximately one in thirty-three of the UK workforce.
With the UK workforce having a high employment rate, you would think that the majority of those with a learning disability are in paid employment.
Research has shown however, that only 6% of those with learning disabilities are in paid employment. Most of the work available to them is also part-time and low-paid.
Barriers To Employment
One of the problems is that people with learning disabilities face many barriers to employment, including:
- Employers having concerns over employing someone with a learning disability.
- Employees expressing concerns about working alongside someone with a learning disability.
- Clients worrying about the disruption of services caused by those with learning disabilities.
- Access to transport can limit employment opportunities.
- Some people with learning disabilities don’t have regular access to a computer.
Those with a learning disability however, have a lot to offer organisations and in fact, with the right support, can give your company an edge over your competition.
The Competitive Edge
Businesses which employ those with learning disabilities have found that, contrary to common belief, they can give them a significant competitive edge.
Canadian technology firm Meticulon Consulting Inc. actively seeks those with learning disabilities because they offer unique skills such as precision, diligence, and attention to detail. This assertion has also been identified in research.
Other employers have also found that those with disabilities are resourceful and can see patterns and opportunities that others can’t.
An employee with learning disabilities at SAP, for instance, discovered an opportunity that allowed customers to solve their own issues. This pleased customers and saved the organisation thousands in costs.
It has also been demonstrated that retention rates are higher and sick leave is lower for employees with learning disabilities in employment. Therefore, they often show higher levels of production and morale within the workplace.
Finally, research from Bangladesh who are signed up to the UN Convention on Human Rights, has shown that customers will consider buying from brands that actively employ those with disabilities to support them.
The Support They Need
While there are benefits for hiring those with learning disabilities, companies should realise these individuals do need support. This can be anything from training other staff members to understand certain behaviours that might seem, ‘unusual’, to providing equipment that helps the disabled employee to complete their tasks.
The cost of providing this support is usually not as high as many business leaders expect. In fact, in comparison to their financial value to businesses, it is much smaller.
Do you employ those with learning disabilities? What benefits do you find?
Let us know what you think via our comments section.