All the latest news and views from Bild.
20 October 2021
What are the employment choices and the right things to look into for people with learning disabilities and autistic people?
Kate Brackley works at Bild and is writing a series of blog posts. For this blog she talks about employment and interviews people from the Welsh Government and SpeakEasy Now to get their views and experiences.
Kate’s own experiences
When I took the decision to enter employment it wasn’t easy. I made a choice as I had plans to continue with my education, but I had to do the right thing for me. I felt that I wanted to do something that would make a huge difference so I decided to go into full time employment.
My first experience of finding a job was in a supported employment agency and it was really good. I then got notified about a job at Bild and have been working here ever since, and I really enjoy what I do.
Through my work at Bild I have developed many skills, including co-delivering training which is a very important part of my job. I have learnt how to cope with the different tasks of my daily job. I have grown so much and I am loving each day.
Covid and employment
The Covid pandemic has been a traumatic time for everyone, affecting people in employment also, with some businesses suffering and that is awful.
I wanted to talk to some people about how the pandemic has affected people with learning disabilities getting and keeping their jobs.
Sara Pickard, Disabled People’s Employment Champion, Welsh Government
Sara has said at the moment due to the pandemic, it has proved even more difficult for people with a disability to find employment opportunities. “With only 6% of adults with a learning disability in employment there is obviously still much to be done.”
“As one of the five Disabled People’s Employment Champions, I am passionate about promoting the social model of disability. When we are in discussions with organisations and employers we help them to see the benefits of employing people with disabilities and the support that is available to help them put in place any necessary reasonable adjustments needed.”
“Some people who have learning disabilities might not always believe in themselves or have low expectations of entering the world of work.
Some employers may not understand what a person with a learning disability can achieve and might have concerns when it comes to employing people with learning disabilities. It seems that both employers and people with disabilities who are keen to enter employment can benefit from better information about what support is available and the real advantages of employing a more varied workforce.”
“We often forget that many people become disabled while in employment and their needs are just as important to enable them to keep their jobs.
It is important that we hear from people with learning disabilities about their views and experiences on how they got into employment, if they are looking for work, doing things voluntary or giving their time to do something good for their communities.“
Bob, SpeakEasy Now, Expert by Experience
Bob says: “that work is so important to many people with learning disabilities. But people are worried that they might lose their benefits if they start work. This can be a barrier to entering employment.”
Dan, SpeakEasy Now, Expert by Experience
Dan says: “it is really important for people with learning disabilities because having a job can make someone more independent. It is also great to be able to earn money for yourself. Having a job has given me more confidence and it makes me feel better about myself too.
Sara, Disabled People’s Employment Champion, Welsh Government
“Being in paid employment can have a huge impact on people’s lives, and especially for the person with a learning disability who can feel that they have been able to succeed in a job where they are treated equally to someone who might not have a disability.
In my present role with Welsh Government we are determined to convince more employers in Wales of the benefits of employing people with learning disabilities and advising them about the support that is available to them. Here in Wales we are able to make an offer to employers to encourage them to consider this.“
Choice and decision making
I asked Sara, Dan and Bob about how people with learning disabilities can make their own choices about employment and careers:
Sara says: “getting advice from organisations like supported employment agencies and maybe having a specialist careers advisor who can help the person with a learning disability to make decisions around employment is really important.
This could be a PATH meeting, where everyone who knows the person who has a learning disability, family members etc, can meet together to discuss where the individual with a learning disability sees themselves further down the line. Whether that is being in a job or whatever direction the person sees themselves going in they can be better informed to make the best decision for them. This worked for me!”
Dan says: “I’ve always wanted a job for a long time and always wanted to find work. It is about having that bit of independence and being able to earn your own money.
The decision to use a supported employment agency and have a Job Coach helped me gain the confidence to start properly looking for jobs and apply for them.”
Bob says: “it is quite hard for people with learning disabilities as people do underestimate what we can do.
People shouldn’t give up and people with learning disabilities have skills that are vital that could help them to get a job.
This could have a big impact for some people as it gives them the confidence that could change their lives.”
Help and support
Sara talked how people with a learning disability should be supported in their workplace and within their job role.
“Making sure that the person with a learning disability is able to say how best they would like to be supported and how they might not want to be supported is really important.
Allowing the person who has a learning disability to do the job to their best of their ability and only providing support when necessary.
Making sure that people with learning disabilities are always seen in interviewing panels, so that it is clear from the start that a potential employee working in a particular post will work well with a person who has a learning disability.”
I asked Sara what advice she would give people with learning disabilities who want a job. She said:
“Don’t be afraid of giving paid work a go, even if you initially think that it’s something that is new to you. Never give up on the idea of finding paid work, it can be something that can give you greater independence and confidence in yourself”.
Some people do voluntary work, before starting paid employment, this is very common for many people.
Voluntary work can open the door to experiences of paid employment, and by volunteering in something that you have a keen interest in, this could lead on to working in that area.
Where to get more information
Books Beyond Words
Individual Books — Beyond Words (booksbeyondwords.co.uk)