Through the Comprehensive Employment Strategy, the Government recognises the importance to people with disabilities of participation in employment. As part of the strategy, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) is committed to improving employment outcomes and removing barriers to employment for persons with a disability.
The DEASP supports for people with disabilities have been designed to enable persons with a disability to achieve their employment ambitions by focusing on the individual person’s ability and capacity rather than taking an approach that focuses on a particular type of disability.
The Department engages regularly with employers to highlight the benefits of employing people with disabilities and the Department promotes workplace supports for people with disabilities on an ongoing basis. For instance, the Employer Information Pack (which is available on the Department’s website at (http://www.welfare.ie/en/downloads/employerpack.pdf) contains information on supports available to people with disabilities and employers. The range of supports and services available to employers are also regularly highlighted at, for example, “road shows” and Job Fairs directed at both employers and potential employees.
The Department provides a range of work-related supports for employers who recruit and employ people with disabilities. These include:
- The Wage Subsidy Scheme, which is a financial incentive (subsidy) available to private sector employers designed to encourage the employment of people with disabilities.
- The Reasonable Accommodation Fund, which assists employers to take appropriate measures to enable a person with a disability / impairment to have access to or retain employment by providing a range of grants. These grants and supports include the Workplace Equipment Adaptation Grant, the Personal Reader Grant, the Job Interview Interpreter Grant and the Employee Retention Grant.
- The EmployAbility service, which is a specialist service (delivered under contract on behalf of the department). The EmployAbility service supports both people with disabilities and their employers through job coach support both pre employment and in employment.
In addition to the above and in recognition of the challenges faced by persons with disabilities during their transition period between school (and other settings) and employment / further education, the Department introduced the ‘Ability’ programme in 2018. The ‘Ability’ programme provides funding (via Pobal) to 27 organisations to support young people (aged 15-29) with disabilities during their individual transition into employment or further education/training through the provision of a range of person-centred supports. The programme has been designed to support some 2,600 young people with disabilities over a three-year period. Details of the services being provided under the ‘Ability’ umbrella are available on the Pobal website at https://www.pobal.ie/programmes/ability-programme/.
I trust this clarifies the issue for the Deputy.