VULNERABLE adults and those with mental health issues are being denied the chance to make a valid contribution to society in the workplace because of a lack of training and prejudice.
The latest employment figures prove that while the economy is recovering and continues to become more buoyant inequality exists at every level for the people who need the most support.
The drop in employment opportunities for vulnerable adults has been dramatic in the last year with the figure of those with severe learning difficulties being in any kind of employment having dropped by almost 15 per cent from 8.8 per cent to 7.1 per cent. It highlights yet again that the biggest hurdles to inclusion for the people we support are prejudice and stigma.
A major hurdle for those with complex needs to gaining meaningful employment is training. Vulnerable adults and those with learning difficulties develop skills in a very practical way and that demands a different kind of approach. It isn’t a case of trying to teach them skills; but finding a job they can do and then helping them to learn the skills to do it. Coupled with this has been the disinvestment by both local authorities in skills for vulnerable adults and the fact that the private sector has not used the Work Programme to support more mentally disabled people.
The emphasis with the Work Programme is getting people into any kind of work rather than meaningful work that engages them. People with mental health and learning difficulties really embrace opportunities that appeal to their natural skills. It is the same with everyone.
Some employers have already realised that to invest and train vulnerable adults is a bonus to the workforce at every level. Their contribution and enthusiasm is appreciated by them, their colleagues, managers and other stakeholders, often the general public. Employers who have embraced this include major high street retailers and some logistics companies.