Disability activist Sinéad Burke launches new initiative for inclusive employment

Disability activist Sinéad Burke launches new initiative for inclusive employment

Disabilities activist Sinéad Burke has launched a new employer's iniative for hiring staff with disabilities. File picture.

Disability activist Sinéad Burke has launched a new government initiative to help employers hire, manage and retain staff with disabilities. 

Employers for Change, a new Employer Disability Information Service, has been set up with the Open Doors initiative to tackle unemployment among people with disabilities and to help employers inclusively hire and retain staff.

Speaking at today's launch, Sinéad Burke said Ireland needs to create accessible workplaces and policies to improve access to employment for disabled people. 

"In Ireland, one in seven people are disabled. Yet, well over half of the disabled community are unemployed. Employers for Change is a catalyst to create sustainable, equitable change for disabled people and employment," she said. 

"We need to create workspaces, policies, and practices with accessibility as a starting point. 

"As a member of the Employers for Change Steering Committee, I'm keen to support the initiative in providing the education, resources, and support needed to achieve this.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin began today's initiative with Francesca McDonagh, CEO of Bank of Ireland, and Síne Breslin, Management Associate, Bank of Ireland. 

Mr Martin said improving the employment of people with disabilities is an important area for the government's aim of building an inclusive Ireland. 

The new director of Employers for Change, Christabelle Feeney said people with disabilities have far fewer opportunities than their non-disabled peers. 

“There are approximately 650,000 people living with a disability in Ireland. Research shows that people with disabilities have far fewer employment opportunities when compared to their non-disabled peers," she said. 

According to the 2016 census, only 36.5% of people with a disability, aged between 20 and 64, are in employment compared to 72.8% of people without a disability.

The new initiative aims to improve employment opportunities for this group by providing a central source of information and advice for employers with a web-based information service and a dedicated helpline. 

Employers can access the resource via www.employersforchange.ie or via the dedicated helpline on 085 1579603.

 

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