The Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities 2015 - 2024 sets out a ten-year approach to ensuring that people with disabilities who are able to, and want to, work are supported and enabled to do so. People with disabilities are only half as likely to be in employment as others of working age. The reasons for this are complex, and include employer know-how, low expectations, and limited re-entry to work following onset of a disability, as well as a higher incidence of ill-health.
The Strategy is a cross-government approach that brings together actions by different departments and state agencies in a concerted effort to address the barriers and challenges that impact on employment of people with disabilities. In tandem with that, it seeks to ensure there will be joined-up services and supports at local level to support individuals on their journey into and in employment.
The Strategy's six strategic priorities are to:
- 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.
The Strategy is monitored and overseen by the Comprehensive Employment Strategy Implementation Group under an independent chair (Mr. Fergus Finlay). This group meets six times a year in order to review progress and prioritise areas of work.
The second phase of the Strategy was launched today, 3 December 2019 in the form of a new three year action plan. The plan includes a range of actions to advance the six strategic priorities and provides a focus for the work of the Implementation Group for the next period in the lifetime of the Strategy.
The key issue in relation to the implementation of the Strategy is the co-ordination of departmental efforts in this area, and therefore, while individual actions in the Strategy may have additional cost implications that will need to be included in the votes of the relevant departments, taken as a whole, the focus is on better co-ordination and use of existing resources, rather than on additional funding allocations.