Áiseanna Tacaíochta disappointed at lack of ambition in Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities
Taoiseach Enda Kenny launched the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities (CES) at an event in Farmleigh House this morning.
Built across a ten-year period, the CES aims to provide a cross-Government, coordinated approach to support people with disabilities to progress into employment. It sets out six strategic priorities:
- Build skills, capacity and independence
- Provide bridges and supports into work
- Make work pay
- Promote job retention and re-entry to work
- Provide co-ordinated and seamless support
- Engage employers.
Among the key outlined decisions, Government plans to increase the public service engagement target of people with disabilities from 3% to 6%, and establish an employer helpline, with the assistance of the National Disability Authority (NDA), to provide guidance and mentoring to employers on hiring staff with disabilities.
An independent implementation group, chaired by Fergus Finlay, will be set up to monitor the six strategic priorities and to ensure that each Government department fulfills their obligations towards it.
Director of Áiseanna Tacaíochta (ÁT), Martin Naughton, said, “while we welcome the long-overdue publication of the CES, a number of shortcomings within the strategy are already evident”.
He continued, “it is concerning that a strategy on employment is excluded from the remit of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, where it belongs. Even though the CES falls under the Department of Justice, it was announced today that the Department of Social Protection is forming a technical group to explore work and employment of disabilities. Such confusion and complexity does not bode well for the interests of people with disabilities”.
“The lack of ambition within the strategy – such as its proposal to double an already extremely low public service employment target over a relatively long time period – is also disappointing, as is the lack of recognition for supports – such as Personal Assistant (PA) services – which would strengthen employment opportunities for the disability community. More concrete plans, solid goals and meaningful engagement are needed in order to truly progress the employment of people with disabilities in this country”.
Just one in five people with disabilities over the age of 15 in Ireland are in employment, compared to one in two of the general population of the same age.