Anthony is part of Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers group of young disabled campaigners. He is currently taking part in the Trailblazers’ Employability Project and is doing an internship with our Campaigns, Parliamentary and Policy team. Here, he blogs about the barriers faced in looking for work and what he hopes to see in the Government’s upcoming Disability and Employment White Paper.
I’m Anthony, I have spent the last six years trying to find work. I have applied for numerous jobs and had many interviews but haven’t been able to get into work. I am now stuck in the position where I have six years’ worth of unpaid work on my CV, which does not look good to prospective employers- especially since I have no paid work since graduating from University in 2009.
I have joined an ever increasing number of disabled people who are struggling to climb onto the employment ladder. With Access to Work being scaled back and specialist employment services being reduce I fear this problem won’t be getting any better soon.
Employment figures may be on the up across the rest of society but now more than half (54%) of the remaining households where nobody works contain at least one disabled adult – amounting to 1.6m families. Action needs to be taken to address this situation, especially the facilities and services available to help disabled access employment.
Access to Work, in particular, needs to be improved. Currently, the Access to Work is only available to those in paid employment, it seems to have been forgotten that many young people do internships and voluntary work in order to gain experience in order to find paid employment in the long term. Furthermore Access to Work can only be applied for once you have been offered a contract, the process takes so long to set up and this will surely put many employers off offering jobs to those who require this help in order to work.
Other disability work centres, such as Remploy, need a major shake-up. These are very inadequate for those, like myself, who are seeking professional graduate roles. These services are often geared up to help those in need of either manual or low-skilled service jobs – this doesn’t address the wide range of different work disabled people will look for.
The difficulty in lowering unemployment amongst disabled people is increasingly exacerbated by the recent cuts to Employment and Support Allowance.
Currently I am fortunate enough not to be affected personally by the ESA cuts, but if I suffered such a significant cut to my benefits I know my ability to continue to effectively job search would be severely affected.
I think the upcoming white paper which is looking at employment opportunities for disabled people offers a suitable platform to discuss these issues, but only if charities and disabled people offer up their own experiences and are listen to. And that the government recognises that people with disabilities deserve and need the same employment opportunities as everybody else.
David Finch of the Resolution Foundation, who have recently produced a report into worklessness rightly says that ‘policy in this area requires a radical rethink, focusing on the role of the state and employers in supporting people both into work and to remain in work.’ I can only hope that the white paper and the bill that is likely to follow provides some genuine change and makes sure that no longer disabled people are left behind.
Muscular Dystrophy UK and the Trailblazers are campaigning for improvements to the Access to Work scheme, and for more support for disabled people looking to get into work. Read more about our campaigning work here.
You can find more information on how to get involved in the Trailblazers’ Employability project here.