Employment opportunities for the disabled have always been a matter of concern. With only 48% of the disabled employed currently as compared to 76% of physically able population, the concern for the overall health and future of the differently abled remains in doubt. Which brings into limelight the campaign phrase “Disability Confident” that has gained traction in the past year, the result, however, doesn't seem to be as healthy as expected.
For the uninitiated, the campaign christened as Disability Confident was an initiative launched with an aim to encourage companies to hire more from the physically disabled population.
Launched in July 2013, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the United Kingdom took the initiative of the campaign that was helped to sensitize the companies regarding the myths related to hiring a person with disabilities. It also consulted the organizations to become disabled friendly both in terms of organizational structure as well job detailing.
However, the campaign’s image took a serious blow with a member of DPAC, Linda Burnip, calling it Disability CON-fident. Her reaction is understandable since even after a year, the campaign has not been able to make any serious dent in the employment opportunities for the disabled.
This brings into question; on whether Disability Confident should be divert its attention from the employer to the prospective employee.
The campaign proved to be highly successful, with events spread across the nation, bringing many eminent personalities and reputed companies on a common platform in support of the movement. However, the success, as told by Burnio, is limited to the glitzy events being organized and the ground reality still remains questionable.
If report from BBC’s Phil Friend is taken into consideration then it can be assumed that the entire campaign seems to be targeting the wrong segment all together. Friend was of the opinion that, rather than spending valuable resources on the employers, it is required to focus on the disabled employee.
There needs to be a greater push in the areas of training and education to ensure that the disabled gain in their ability to work and are able to confidently find jobs with the employers. This shift in focus to the employee will not only ensure that companies find greater confidence in hiring them, but also ensure that every employee irrespective of their physical condition has the opportunity to grow.
It should also be understood that the confidence building measures for the disabled along with job training would ensure that they are equipped mentally as well as in their ability to compete for opportunities across the board. It surely is expected that DWP takes a deeper look at the success of Disability Confident beyond the glitzy events and think about focusing their attention to weak areas which have resulted in the lackluster employment growth of the disabled.