A range of local, national and global Exeter based employers including Lidl, Flybe, Jurys Inn and South West Highways benefited from free Disability Awareness training on Wednesday 28th November.

The training hosted by CSW Group and funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) aimed to raise awareness of different types of disabilities including visual and hearing impairments and hidden disabilities such as mental health. It was delivered by local organisation Living Options Devon which aims to ensure people with disabilities in the South West can live the lives they choose.

Joy Williams and Lisa Norcliffe from the DWP also delivered a session about the Disability Confident scheme which supports employers to make the most of the talents disabled people can bring to the workplace.

Louise Ryamont and Sophie Holmes from Devon County Council also attended to talk about the Ready When You Are Campaign. This is a campaign running across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay which aims to encourage employers to take on people with disabilities particularly mental health conditions, learning disabilities and autism.

The session was very well received with delegates rating it 8.2 out of 10. The session also received some really positive feedback including;

  • I enjoyed the communication activity and felt it had a good impact and understanding of how disabled people potentially feel and struggle to engage in conversation
  • It changed my thinking as an employer in the way disabilities are dealt with
  • I will be more aware of the effort / concentration required by people with disabilities – will also help with interview process
  • After today I will communicate knowledge to my team to enable them to be more confident when working with someone with a disability

Why is it important to raise employer’s awareness of disabilities and the benefits of employing people with disabilities?

According to SCOPE, the disability equality charity, disabled people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people and a 10 percentage point rise in the employment rate amongst disabled adults would contribute an extra £12 billion to the Exchequer by 2030.

According to MENCAP many studies have shown there are significant benefits for businesses that employ people with a learning disability, including the boosting of staff morale, improving the public image of your company, and financial costs.

It would appear from the statistics and research then that there is a large pool of untapped talent that could make a positive difference to organisations within the UK and to the UK economy as a whole. This is a compelling argument for all employers to become disability confident and to seriously consider employing someone with a disability.