Disabled people in Scotland are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. Many disabled people in work may have to leave their jobs when they gain an impairment, or a condition worsens if they don’t get the support or workplace adjustments they need. Research has shown that loss of employment opportunities contributes to disabled people living in poverty and results in us experiencing demoralising rejection, increased pessimism, under-confidence and poor mental health.

Lots of disabled people want to work and can work  We experience barriers to getting work and advancing in our careers such as inaccessible work places, inflexible working practises, a lack of support for disabled people and employers, and employers not knowing about the support that exists.

  • Only 45.9% of disabled people are in employment in Scotland as opposed to 81.7% of non-disabled people.
  • People with learning disabilities or a mental health problem have a much higher unemployment rate (70%).
  • Having a higher education is no guarantee of employment for disabled people. Working-age disabled graduates in Scotland have a 15% lower working rate than of non-disabled graduates.
  • Young disabled people are the group least likely to be in employment – just 37% even though the Scottish youth unemployment rate fell to a record low level of 9% by late 2019, one of the lowest rates in Europe.
  • Young disabled people are twice as likely to be Not in Employment Education or Training (NEET) six months after leaving school than their non-disabled peers and three times as likely to be NEET by age 19.
  • COVID-19 update – Evidence shows that disabled individuals are being made redundant. Employers are pressuring workers into returning to work when they do not yet feel it is safe to do so and dismissing them when they refuse. (EASS report)

How can we make employment more accessible to disabled people?

  • Remove employer-based barriers to disabled people, working with employers to encourage flexibility in working hours and arrangements that recognise the individual needs of disabled people.
  • Make disabled people to be a priority group for access to the Young Person’s Guarantee.
  • Include disabled people in the designing of employability support schemes.

Find out more – Disabled people want more say over the design and delivery of employability services that help people into work. They have told us that employers need support to be good and proper employers of disabled people and that Access to Work, which provides support with support and workplace adjustments for disabled people, should be better advertised, more available and redesigned to increase its uptake and the positive benefits it can have.

To find out what the Scottish Government plans are and what they have done so far to increase the employment rate of disabled people in Scotland. You can read A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People Employment Action Plan and progress report.

Want to make employment more accessible to disabled people? Learn how to be an inclusive employer by creating internships for disabled people at your workplace. If you’re a disabled person you might be interested in our latest internship opportunities. We also have resources about applying for jobs, going for interviews and starting work including about adjustments in our We Can Work section.