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Down's Syndrome: Employment Barriers

Down's Syndrome: Employment Barriers

Only one in five adults of working age with Down’s syndrome are in paid employment, new research from the Down’s Syndrome Association revealed.

The research was conducted as part of the DSA’s campaign to highlight that far too many capable adults are being overlooked by potential employers due to their learning disability.

The research shows that 20% of adults aged 18-60 with Down’s syndrome are in paid employment – this is nearly four times less than the general population of working age. Over half of adults with Down’s syndrome are not working at all, either on a voluntary or paid basis. Two-thirds of those who aren’t working would like a job. 26% of respondents are doing voluntary work, either through choice or because they cannot find paid employment.
Many respondents stated that they felt let down by employment support services, or felt that potential employers could not see past the disability.

Patricia, mother of 27-year-old Michael with Down’s syndrome, said: “I have written to various large retail outlets on Michael’s behalf. I have explained that he has done work experience in retail in the past, and is more than capable of stacking shelves or packing bags. He has his own personal assistant funded by his Independent Living Fund so they wouldn’t need to provide the extra support themselves. I only wanted an opportunity for him to do further work experience at first, I wasn’t even asking for paid employment. Most companies didn’t even bother to reply, and those that did said a firm ‘no’ – with no offer to keep an application on file or to get back in touch if something came up.”

Those participants who were in employment spoke very positively about their experiences. Jobs ranged from retail and clerical roles to acting and even work with stained glass. One 23-year-old-lady with Down’s syndrome, who works as an Outreach Officer, said: “Doing this type of work with so many wonderful people who help others really does make me feel good and want to smile. I like being able to make a difference to young people's future.”

Employers who have successfully recruited someone with Down’s syndrome have noted benefits such as improved staff morale, reduced staff turnover, improved staff attendance, access to an untapped pool of labour and a positive corporate image.; Source: Down's Syndrome Association


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