Employment is a vital part of developing people’s aspirations and confidence, as well as boosting social mobility. This is good for the individual, good for society, good for the economy and good for the taxpayer.
Despite this, and however you chose to measure it, the UK remains one of the least socially mobile countries in Europe.
Getting a job, staying in it and building a rewarding career is vital to increasing social mobility. Shaw Trust, alongside many other organisations, currently supports unemployed people into work through programmes like Work Programme and Work Choice, which give people the support they need to get into work.
Employment services for those already in need of help are really important, but are only a sticking plaster to the social mobility challenge. To have the best chance of making real inroads, we must instead start much earlier in people’s lives.
That’s why we recently set up the Shaw Education Trust – to run academy schools for disabled and disadvantaged young people. Our proposition is that we will support the transition from school to work or further learning through an intensive focus not just on academic excellence, but also on careers guidance, work experience and job readiness. We believe this will help give our young people the best opportunity to move from school life into confident and well prepared adults.
However, employers need to step up to the plate too. There remains a stubborn difference of 30% between the employment rates of people with and people without a disability, but disabled employees can be some of the most productive, effective and loyal staff members.
The benefits of a diverse workforce are well rehearsed and people with disabilities in the UK spend over £80bn per year. This is a talented and sizeable group of people. More action from employers is needed if we are to make significant inroads into becoming a more mobile society and offer disabled people the opportunity to work in not just accessible, but truly inclusive workplaces.
“I’ve always known what I want to do but, there’s always been obstacles in my way. Shaw Trust gave me more confidence.”
Frances Ware, supported on the Work Programme by Shaw Trust
Shaw Trust works with 12,000 employers a year who believe that people should be judged on their skills and abilities, rather than on their disability, and would like to see more employers across the UK embrace a diverse workforce. By working together we can create a stronger society and economy that is a win for both employers as well as individuals who want to transform their lives.
Shaw Trust is a national charity that works with disadvantaged, disabled and unemployed people across the UK.