November 26, 2014

Northern Ireland Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry delivered a keynote address to a major North-South conference focusing on the employment support needs of people with disabilities and other barriers to work.

The ‘Creating the Future of Supported Employment’ conference, co-hosted by the Northern Ireland Union for Supported Employment (NIUSE) and the Irish Association of Supported Employment (IASE), explored the key issues and barriers that people with disabilities, and other disadvantaged groups, have to overcome in order to fully participate in employment or employment related activity.

The Minister said: “My Department is currently finalising a new Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities across Northern Ireland in close partnership with the local disability sector and other stakeholders. This Strategy will set a frameworks for the development of services to further support people with disabilities move into learning and employment. It is encouraging to see a number of the key themes of this conference mirror the draft proposals within the new strategy including topics such as: Transition Action Planning for young people, supporting self-employment for people with a disability, employer engagement, in-works support and Supported Employment.”

The conference signified twenty years of close partnership working between NIUSE and IASE, who works with representatives from all sectors to promote paid employment opportunities for people with disabilities. It included a number of keynote plenary speakers, along with interactive workshops, and enabled delegates to discuss emerging strategies and interventions to assist people with disabilities and other barriers move into training and education programmes as a step towards paid employment. It also focussed on the need to have ongoing support that would help those who make the successful transition to remain in works and, indeed, progress within their job role.

The Minister continued: “My Department’s Disability Employment Service has a good working relationship with NIUSE member organisations, many of which deliver programmes and services on behalf of the department. They are very knowledgeable about disability employment issues and the challenges that we face collectively in trying to support people into employment. DEL has increasingly used NIUSE to help co-ordinate disability employment activities and initiatives, such as ring-fenced recruitment competitions, seminars, and the pre-consultation exercise on the current strategy proposals.

My Department will do all that we can, in partnership and collaboration with all of our key stakeholders, including those from the community and voluntary sector, to maximise the number of disadvantaged people in our society that we help to achieve their employment ambitions in life.

The event was attended by delegates from the voluntary and community sectors, as well as representatives from statutory bodies and a number of local employers.

for more information about the conference visit www.iase.ie

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