Review of Employment Opportunities for People with Learning Disabilities
- Meeting of The Former Adult Services and Health Scrutiny Panel, Thursday, 3rd November, 2005 9.30 a.m. (Item 57.)
Consideration was given to exploring ways to increase employment opportunities within the Council for people with Learning Disabilities.
Presentations were given by the following officers, who were questioned on their submission :-
(a) Dave Chester, Director Learning Disability Service
Members were informed that Single Regeneration Budget funding had been secured to enable “Project 400” to develop into an all year round employment based scheme.
The scheme will operate solely within the Valley Partnership area, a Development Officer being appointed to take it on to become a self sufficient enterprise.
Funding for the scheme will come from Single Regeneration Budget, Adult Community Learning and the Learning Disability Development Fund, with participating householders paying £10 per visit.
A Member asked about links between the Valley Partnership and the Area Assembly.
Dave Chester gave a short presentation, based on the working experiences of a number of learning disabled people in Rotherham.
Members raised the following matters:
w the need for targets
w the need for a member champion as well as an officer
w legislation on employing a percentage of people with a disability
w persuading employers to take on more people with a disability, breaking down barriers with them
w easier access to premises
w training to be such that it fits the abilities of a person with learning disabilities
(b) Clare Parker, Service Manager, Mencap Pathway, outlined how the service helps people with a learning disability in a variety of ways including interview techniques and jobs coaching.
The work of Mencap with local authorities and people with a learning disability was illustrated in a DVD “WorkRight for Local Authorities”.
WorkRight is a scheme for employers who want to follow good practice guidelines in employing people with a learning disability.
Clare Parker then spoke about the ongoing help and support Mencap Pathway offers learning disabled employees, how it has worked with the Council to date and how the WorkRight scheme could help further. She also covered the obstacles in finding suitable employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities and how the ‘benefits trap’ could be overcome.
Further discussion related to :-
w benefit legislation and removing obstacles to enable people with learning disabilities to work longer hours should they so wish
w the need for Rotherham MBC to improve its record on employment of persons with a learning disability
w being cautious on setting targets to make sure that they are achievable.
(c) Gillian McCormack, Business Support Team Leader, Rotherham Learning Disability Service, gave a summary of the role of the service, what can be offered, the funding and staffing situation.
Members were interested to hear of the background to the employment with Rotherham MBC of A.M. who has a learning disability and is a member of the Business Support Team. She explained how his role has developed and the benefits brought to the service.
(d) Neil Perry, Human Resources Officer for Health and Equalities spoke about the small number of learning disabled people, currently employed by the Council, , accepting that the Authority needed to improve the employment opportunities it offers to learning disabled people and simplify recruitment procedures.
(e) Vicky Farnsworth and Jonathan Evans, Speak Up, gave a brief presentation on the work undertaken by the Speak Up organisation and the employment opportunities provided by its Granary Café at Clifton ParkMuseum.
It was felt that it may be helpful for a similar presentation to be given to the Chamber of Commerce.
Resolved:- (1) That the recommendations set out below be submitted for consideration to Cabinet, with a request for a response within two months.
w Ensure learning disability is included in diversity training for individuals recruiting staff
w Use images of learning disabled employees in recruitment literature
w When constructing job descriptions and person specifications, include only those components absolutely necessary for the job and use Plain English
w Give proper consideration to converting successful training placements into paid employment
w Allow learning disabled applicants to provide the required information in an alternative format e.g. via DVD or audit tape
w Where possible, replicate the best practice shown in the WorkRight for Local Authorities DVD e.g. using work experience as an extended form of assessment
w Implement the recommendations of ‘You and Us Together – Perceptions of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council as Potential Employers – Research Reprot by Euro RSCG Rileys, 2005, with specific reference to learning disabled people.
Awareness-raising and Training for employing managers
w Use the WorkRight for Local Authorities DVD to help raise awarensss
w Use Mencap Pathway to deliver training
w Provide guidance to managers on how to ‘construct’ a suitable employment opportunity for a learning disabled person, from pre-existing work tasks
w Include a session on employing people with learning disabilities (and making ‘reasonable adjustments’ for their needs) as part of the regular training programme
Policy and Performance
w Recognise learning disabled people as an important sub-group within the disabled community
w Identify a target for employing learning disabled people that reflects the make-up of the local community (including those from black and minority ethnic communities) – and identify an officer to be responsible for this.
w Monitor the Council’s performance against the target by creating a local performance indicator for employing learning disabled people
w Consider how contractors providing Council services can be required how to demonstrate how they intend to include learning disabled employees within their workforce
w That Councillor Jackson be appointed as champion for people with learning disabilities
(4) That the recommendations, if agreed by Cabinet, be submitted to local MPs and to Anna McGuire, Parliamentary Under Secretary (Disabled People).
(5) That a report on progress be submitted to a future meeting of this Scrutiny Committee.