Pictured are Sarah Togher (IASE National Coordinator), Peter Furlong (IASE Board), An Taoiseach, Teresa Mallon (IASE Board) and Greg Barry (IASE Chairperson)
- Report is a step forward but implementation concerns remain.
- Over 100,000 additional workers could be integrated into the workforce.
The Irish Association of Supported Employment (www.iase.ie), has cautiously welcomed the publication of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy (CES) for People with Disabilities in Farmleigh House today, as a step forward but has warned that gaps in implementation could impact greatly on the lives of over 100,000 in Ireland.
The report outlines a comprehensive strategy for providing employment supports to persons with a disability following an extensive consultation process led by the National Disability Authority (NDA). The IASE contributed to the CES offering solutions to address gaps in current service provision in particular in the area of supported employment.
For the first time in Ireland the disability sector will see a cross departmental strategic approach to the delivery of labour market activation to progress employment options for people with disabilities.
Outlining areas of concern Mr. Greg Barry, IASE National Chairperson said “If supported employment is to become a mainstream service it must have a clear position in government policy for all people with disabilities and national policy must provide an understanding of what supported employment is and provide a clear status for supported employment. Access to employment is an important route to independence and community inclusion for people with disabilities. Clarity is essential regarding the future role of the Department of Health in the areas of employment, training and works opportunities for people with disabilities, and how this role intersects with the roles of the Department of Social Protection.”
Welcoming the report Mr Barry added “We believe that over 100,000 additional people could be productively integrated with mainstream employment with valuable contributions to Ireland’s economy and enriching the social fabric of the workplace. The CES plays a vital role in making this a reality and we welcome clarity on overcoming the potential hurdles. Today’s publication of the report is to be welcomed as another step towards normalising and building on the great works done by many organisations and governments departments but without greater urgency in addressing these issues the lives of many people with disability will be left in limbo.”
Commenting on the issue of employment of people with disability Mr.Barry said “Our experience has shown that People with disabilities can, and do, make a valuable contribution to the workplace but they are much more likely to experience barriers to the workplace with less than half being as likely to be at works compared to the rest of general working age population. Supported employment is a tried and tested model, used internationally, to assist people with disabilities access work. Supported employment works and it is proven to work. It is good for the economy, good for employers, good for people with disabilities and good for creating a more inclusive and fairer society in general.”
The IASE believes that should a person with disability express an interest in taking up employment, they should be able to avail of the appropriate supports regardless of disability or where they are located in the country. The association fears that the CES alone may not reduce the gaps to achieve increased employment outcomes for people with disabilities. IASE appreciate the CES is not a funding package, however the association are concerned that without adequate resources and financial structures in place the delivery of the actions set out in the CES will be unmanageable to implement.
With over 900 members nationally IASE is a strong representative voice for the progression and development of supported employment in Ireland. IASE are well positioned to support the Government on aspects of delivering actions set out in the CES as well as continuing to build on the successes it has achieved developing the supported employment model, professional development, contributing to policy, and raising public awareness.
IASE believe the CES has the opportunity to provide a huge basis to continue development within the sector. Building on existing successes, the organization wishes to works with all stakeholders such as parents, educators, supported employment providers, policy makers and the disability sector to ensure the actions set out over the 10 years of the CES and initially in the 3 year actions plan are delivered.
In its submissions as part of the consultative process IASE highlighted that the CES must provide clear leadership and the split between departments was unfair for the employment of people with disabilities. The association also noted that at present there are gaps in supported employment provision in that not all job seekers with disability can avail of supported employment as the current provision (EmployAbility) only meets the needs of particular cohorts of people with disabilities.
Read the full Comprehensive Employment Strategy here
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