From education to employment

New ETF publication highlights benefits of employing young people with SEND

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A new publication from the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) highlighting the benefits of building a diverse workforce within a business is now available. ‘Why diversifying is good for your business – employers talk about the benefits’ shares the true stories of employers who are actively employing and supporting people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

From museums and galleries, to hospitals and restaurants, the featured employers come from a wide range of industries, yet share similar experiences of the benefits of building a diverse workforce, including attracting a diverse customer base, sourcing dedicated and loyal employees, and improving disability awareness among staff.

Currently, the employment rate of disabled people is considerably lower than that of non-disabled people. According to a recent Labour Force Survey, between October and December 2021, only 53% of people with disabilities were employed, compared to 82% of non-disabled people. The survey also indicates that the disability employment gap for autistic adults is wider still, with only 25% in employment.

The creation of the publication has been led by Teresa Carroll, National Head for Inclusion at the ETF. She hopes it will inspire other potential employers to think about the positive impact that hiring a more diverse workforce can have on their business:

“We know across the country, there are many employers and FE providers working together to support our young people into meaningful employment. This publication brings some of those stories together in the hope of inspiring employers to build a more diverse workforce within their business. There are already lots of trail-blazing activities that are happening nationwide to support the employment of people with SEND, but they’re not being given the recognition they deserve.

“When given the opportunity, our young people make fabulous employees and are delighted to achieve their aspirations; employers fill their vacancies with loyal and hardworking staff, and people with different life experiences work and learn from each other creating a more inclusive world. I hope this publication will play a part in highlighting the numerous benefits of hiring people with SEND.”

One of the employers that noticed a difference in staff perspectives is Leeds Museums and Galleries, the largest council-run museums service outside of London. Carl Newbould, Learning and Access Officer at Leeds Museums and Galleries, said:

“The staff understand better how to adapt their work to make our museums and collections more accessible. It’s been fantastic to see positivity coming from many of the people that I work with. A diverse workforce gives you new perspectives. It shouldn’t be seen as something that is difficult but should be seen as an advantage.”

There is a wide range of support available for education providers and employers looking to employ young people with SEND. The ETF offers free bespoke support to education and training providers and employers interested in creating more inclusive organisations through our three Centres for Excellence in SEND and our employer spokes.

If you are an employer considering diversifying your business, please contact Teresa directly: [email protected].

For more information and resources, please visit the ETF’s SEND Excellence Gateway site.

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