Access to meaningful employment opportunities for all is the cornerstone of an inclusive society. Unfortunately, this is something we must still, as a society, live up to. In Ireland and many other places around the world, individuals with disabilities are locked out of finding meaningful employment. 

The Facts 

At a recent Oireachtas committee hearing, TDs and Senators were told that Ireland has the worst rate in Europe of people with disabilities in employment. A report commissioned by the European Disability Forum found that the rate of people with disabilities who are in employment, in Ireland, to be just 32.6%. This compares to a European average of 51%. 

This high level of unemployment leads to higher risk of poverty. A separate 2020 study by the EDF found that 38.1% of people with disabilities in Ireland were at risk of poverty and social exclusion. 

The EDF highlighted the three following issues as key barriers to employment for people with disabilities: 

1. The termination of disability allowance when an individual enters the workforce, causing concerns about the risk of falling into poverty while working.

2. Employers displaying reluctance to implement necessary accommodations that would enhance the work performance of individuals with disabilities.

3. Prejudice against people with disabilities stemming from misconceptions and stereotypes. 

The Benefits of Employment 

There are a whole host of benefits that come with employment, particularly for people with disabilities, those include: 

  1. Financial Independence: Employment provides a source of income, particularly important given the low levels of income available through Disability Allowances, coupled with the added cost of having a disability. This added cost typically ranges from €8,700 – €12,300. 
  2. Increased Self-Esteem: Holding a job can boost self-esteem and self-confidence, fostering a positive self-image and sense of personal achievement.
  3. Expanded Social Network: Employment offers opportunities to build social connections, interact with co-workers, and be part of a community, reducing feelings of isolation.
  4. Skill Development: Employment allows individuals to develop and enhance their skills, which can lead to career advancement and personal growth.

Overall, employment offers a pathway to empowerment, improved well-being, and full participation in society for people with disabilities, promoting a more inclusive and diverse workforce. 

The Solutions 

While the current picture can be disheartening, there are things that we can do to reverse the trend. At SeeMySkills we believe in equipping teenagers and adults with disabilities with essential skills, support, and opportunities for meaningful employment.

SeeMySkills developed two programmes to help tackle the disproportionately high unemployment rates among individuals with disabilities. The programmes offered by SeeMySkills are designed to make a tangible difference. The Accelerator Programme, tailored for secondary school students, offers training in communication, time management, interview skills, CV writing, and barista skills. Students also get to visit key employers, enabling students to envision a future where they can thrive independently. SeeMySkills also developed the Empowered Programme, designed to empower adults with disabilities who have gone through mainstream education, and those who have family impacted by disability. This programme showcases unique abilities and helps individuals find meaningful employment opportunities by working with them on a one-to-one basis.