Tackling the Disability Employment Gap
16 May 2017
New measures to support job opportunities for disabled
A package of measures to support disabled people in accessing
employment opportunities in public service and the public sector
have been announced.
Ahead of a Scottish Parliament debate on delivering fairer
opportunities for disabled people, Social Security Minister Jeane
Freeman set out a series of new actions the Scottish Government
would take forward.
- A new internship programme for disabled people in the Scottish
Government from September as part of the 120 place programme in
public and third sector and in politics;
- In the first event of its kind to be hosted in Scotland, a
major congress will take place in December on disability,
employment and the workplace accompanied by a newly announced
week-long programme of events which will explore employability
issues in depth;
- A new campaign to launch in June to raise awareness among small
and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of the benefits of hiring and
retaining more disabled people;
- A review, which will report back in the autumn, in to whether
the Access to Elected Office Fund could be extended to support
disabled people who wish to undertake public service other than
standing for elected office. Currently the fund provides financial
support to help disabled people overcome extra difficulties they
may face in accessing elected office - such as transport costs -
with 39 candidates supported in the recent local government
elections and 15 elected as councillors.
Statistics show non-disabled people are twice as likely to be in
work than disabled people - the Scottish disability employment rate
stands at 40.9%, while the non-disabled employment rate is
Speaking ahead of the debate, Social Security Minister Jeane
"Time and again I hear from disabled people across the country
about how they want to contribute and play their part in society.
Part of this is having meaningful employment.
"While businesses have a vital role to play in this, it is also
up to the Scottish Government and the public sector to lead by
example. That is why I'm pleased to be able to announce this
package of measures that will help open up opportunities for
disabled people - giving them the necessary skills and tools to
allow them to have an equal chance of competing in the labour
"These are part of a wider package of measures contained in our
delivery plan to strengthen the rights of disabled people in this
"I will set out to Parliament the broad programme of activity
that is underway to change the lives of disabled people. It is a
key issue, which requires us to work collectively, if we are to
create a fairer country for all Scottish people."
Tressa Burke, Chief Executive, Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA)
"26 years after the Disability Discrimination Act, disability
and disadvantage are still intricately linked in Scotland today.
70% of GDA members live in the four most deprived areas of
Scotland. Over half live within the top 20% most deprived areas in
"Hundreds of GDA members have taken part in feeding into the
Scottish Government's Disability Delivery Plan, to contribute their
lived experiences and expertise on what needs to change to make the
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a reality
"We welcome and support A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People,
and the principles, commitments and most importantly the actions
which promise progress towards dismantling the barriers that keep
disabled people trapped in poverty and isolation. We look forward
to working collaboratively to secure human rights for disabled
people and to a fairer, more equal Scotland for all."
Ian Tasker, Assistant Secretary, Scottish Trades Union Congress
"The STUC very much welcome the approach being taken by the
Scottish Government to tackle the disability employment gap, a
commitment that is very much evident in A Fairer Scotland for
Disabled People where roughly half of the actions are related to
improving employability of disabled people in Scotland and
providing real and sustainable employment with equal opportunity
for all in line with the Fair Work Framework.
"Working with disabled workers to develop an agenda for a
Disabled Employment Congress underlines the commitment given by the
Government during consultation on the delivery plan that nothing
would be done for disabled people without them being actively
involved in developing public policy that affects them.
"This refreshing approach will see trade unions working with
Government and the wider disabled community to deliver an event
that recognises their ability and not disability, providing a
solid foundation for delivering fair work and equal employment
opportunities for disabled people in the Scottish labour
The Scottish Government is working with its partners towards a
long term ambition of halving the disability employment gap.
Scotland for Disabled People was published in December.