Mencap has discovered that more than half (52 per cent) of the public say they would prefer to work for a company that employs people with a learning disability.
Launched to coincide with the Learning Disability Work Experience Week — created in partnership with Inclusive Employers – the charity’s new research consisting of 2,095 ‘online panelists’ found 62 per cent of the public said they have never worked with someone who has a learning disability, and four per cent admitted they would prefer not to. Furthermore, only 5.8 per cent of people with a learning disability are known to be in employment by the local authorities.
Jan Tregelles, chief executive at Mencap said: “This research and public reactions really highlights how a lack of understanding around what people with a learning disability are capable of is a crucial factor in the woefully low employment rates experienced by people with a learning disability.
“It is however hugely encouraging that when made to think about the issue the public came out in overwhelming support towards employing people with a learning disability, but disheartening to see the outdated assumptions people still have around learning disability. It’s these assumptions which run through society that can make it so challenging for people with a disability to secure employment.”
Mencap has worked with many employers around the UK to highlight the benefits to employing people with learning disabilities, including: improving public perception; stay in jobs longer; take fewer sick days; improve staff morale and reduce retirement costs.
A separate analysis carried out by the charity last year surveying 60 UK employers confirmed many of challenges those with a learning disability have in securing employment:
- Almost half (46 per cent) of representatives acknowledged that their organisation’s job descriptions, adverts and application forms are not easy for somebody with a learning disability to read and fill in;
- 45 per cent who have not employed somebody with a learning disability were concerned it might be more difficult for members of public to deal with members of staff with a learning disability;
- 23 per centof employers feel not all their colleagues would be happy working with somebody with a learning disability.