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As the government has pledged to get one million more disabled people into work, the Work and Pensions committee have launched a new enquiry into assistive technology as part of them tackling the disability employment gap (DEG).
Progress into ensuring more people get into work has reached a stalemate since the original enquiry was launched back in March 2016. The Chair of the Work & Pensions Committee, Frank Field MP, has said:
“Progress on reducing the disability employment gap in the last decade has been glacial, when we know there are lots of disabled people ready and willing to get into work.
We need a radical new system to incentivise employers to take on, retain and progress disabled workers, and assistive technology has an important role in that. We want to hear about employers, workers and would-be workers’ experience with assistive tech, the problems, and innovative solutions.”
Why Assistive Technology?
The role of assistive technology can be fundamental in helping individuals with additional needs in education and the workplace. Assistive Technology can include hardware, software, wearable technology, apps, ergonomic and physical solutions. The tech can help make certain aspects of work and education more accessible for the individual with a disability or health condition.
The Work & Pensions committee are now looking into the role of assistive technology and how it can remove barriers in the workplace. They are also looking at areas of innovation in assistive tech that they will be able to help develop. There is a public call for evidence for written submissions on assistive technology and how it can improve disabled people’s employment rates.
Measurements to Help with the Disability Employment Gap (DEG)
The government has also reinstated measures that will hone in on the disability employment gap and offer the relevant support for individuals with disabilities and health conditions. Along with an inquiry into assistive technology, the government also focuses on relevant disability awareness training so individuals can receive the best support when they look for employment.
The UK Parliament website has outlined the following:
“1. Providing more structured support and information for employers to encourage them to take on and retain disabled employees;
2. Improvements to Access to Work, including a new expectation that awards will be portable, with claimants able to take equipment from job to job;
3. A commitment to a “comprehensive cross-Government programme of analysis and research on incentives and expectations” for employers, reporting back on preliminary work in 2018.”
Other committee recommendations include Job Centre Plus’ Work Coaches receiving three weeks of classroom training so they can develop
their skills and understanding of different disabilities. By doing so, Work Coaches will be able to offer a more tailored service, so they can help the individuals overcome their personal challenges with their job search and in the workplace.
Further improvements to Access to Work will also ensure that it is better publicised, so more schools and colleges are aware of supported internships and understand that there are provisions that can help young disabled people get into work and overcome their personal challenges.
What do these changes mean for you?
With the government working to create a better, more publicised Access to Work scheme and looking to invest more into Assistive Technology, services that offer individuals with advice and tools should be more effective, so you will receive better support with your job search, whether you are transitioning into work or wanting to find a new job.
For more information on the Access to Work scheme or the role of assistive technology, please get in touch with a member of our staff by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or you can ring us on 01223 420 101. If you wish to contribute evidence on assistive technology, the deadline is the 19th of January 2018.