It is clear that many people with learning disabilities would like more opportunities to have a paid job and, just as importantly, to keep their job and build a career. For many, this would unlock more choice and control over how to live their lives. But it is also clear that very few people with a learning disability in Scotland have the support and opportunities that would enable them to work.
In this report – the latest in our wider learning disabilities research project – we set out the challenges and potential solutions to improving outcomes. We analyse the learning disability employment rate in the context of the Scottish Government’s ambition to halve the disability employment gap, we set out the key barriers to improving outcomes, and we highlight success stories that might provide a blueprint for improving outcomes on a wider scale.
Here is a summary of our findings:
- Employment outcomes for people with learning disabilities are poor and there is no evidence of progress being made.
- Employment is not a viable option for everyone with a learning disability, and it is important to recognise that this does not preclude people from leading fulfilling lives. Success does not mean everyone with a learning disability working – it means everyone who can and wants to work having the support and opportunities that enables them to do so.
- A lack of disaggregated data means that there is no reliable labour market information about people with a learning disability in Scotland.
- There is data on the pan-disabled employment rate. The Scottish Government is unlikely to meet its flagship ambition to halve the disability employment gap without improving opportunities for people with a learning disability.
- There is evidence of what works. Case studies presented in this report show that success is possible with the right support in place.
- The key challenge is replicating success at scale.
- Meaningful progress cannot be made by government alone. It requires all stakeholders, including employers, to take active steps towards more inclusive working environments.
- This presents an opportunity for government and employers to invest in the support that will unlock the potential of people with a learning disability.
Dean of External Engagement in the College of Social Sciences at Glasgow University and previously director of the Fraser of Allander Institute.