Moves to help more disabled people into the workplace

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Media captionPM David Cameron: "This is not just about what is right for disabled people. Employing disabled people makes business sense too"

A campaign to help people with disabilities get into the workplace has been launched by the UK government.

It includes a plan to offer disabled young people new internships and training to help them find jobs.

Ministers want firms to change their recruitment policies after government research showed employers' attitudes were a barrier to disabled people.

Ministers say national attitudes are changing after the success of last summer's Paralympic Games in London.

An advertising campaign for the initiative was unveiled in London on Thursday at a disability employment conference.

The campaign will ask employers to recognise the talents that disabled people have to offer, and "challenge some of the preconceptions".

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "This isn't just about doing what is right for disabled people. Employing disabled people makes business sense too.

"We need to break the myth about the complexities of employing disabled people, or to put it more simply - to give employers confidence."

Extra training

As part of the new initiative a government-funded scheme will be available to 16-to-24-year-olds who have complex learning difficulties and disabilities.

Youngsters who sign up for an internship, which will be run by further education colleges, will get help from expert career coaches and work for at least six months.

Employers will also be given help from the same coaches and encouraged to take on disabled young people.

Under these "traineeships", young people will get assistance in writing a CV, interview practise, work placements of up to five months and training in English and maths.

There are nearly seven million disabled people of working age in the UK, and their employment rates have increased slightly over the past decade, from 42.2% in 2002 to 46.3% in 2012.


Damon Rose, editor of the BBC's disability blog Ouch, points out that the conference is happening "against a backdrop of benefits cuts".

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Media captionDan Biddle talks about the challenges faced by disabled people in the workplace

He said: "If the government wants to nudge, or some would say shove, disabled people into work, then they have a responsibility to address what many disabled people consider the biggest barrier to work - unhelpful attitudes from potential employers."

But he thinks that initiatives like Thursday's conference should help. "Recently, the language has changed. No longer do we talk about tackling discrimination by employers. Now the discussion is about giving confidence to employers to take on disabled workers," he said.

Last year, the government announced that 27 Remploy factories, which provide employment opportunities for disabled people, were to close.

The closures followed recommendations by an independent review into the way the government spent its disability employment budget.

It recommended that the government should divert funding to support individuals, rather than subsidising factory businesses.

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