Louise Coupland, the ALLIANCE considers how Scotland might use new powers to take a different approach to employability.
What should the employability landscape look like for disabled people and people who live with long term conditions?
The ‘Creating a Fairer Scotland’ national conversation has provoked some very positive conversations across Scotland on how to make the employability landscape a fairer and more equal playing field for disabled people, carers and people living with long term conditions.
In our response we highlighted the opportunity, presented by the Scotland Bill, for Scotland to design and deliver an employability service for disabled people and those at risk of long-term employment from 1 April 17, that could create an incomparable national service design, offering equality and aspirations to those who have faced inequity access to employment. This may drive a programme of alignment and integrated services across the Scottish employability sector.
The project My Skills, My Strengths, My Right to Work was developed within the ALLIANCE in September 2012. It strives to offset the injustice of people with long term conditions being disproportionately disadvantaged in the workplace .The project is also supported by an employer focussed campaign My Skills, My Strengths, My Work.
Since developing the campaign, the role employers have to play in creating a fairer Scotland has become increasingly apparent. While there is an essential requirement for holistic employability services to serve those with multiple disadvantages including long term conditions plus low skills/qualifications, immobility and segregation, there is an equal necessity for employers to look beyond the notion of ‘perfect employees’. Employers are striving for an ideal workforce, however in a climate where more people are living with a/ or multiple long term conditions, have an additional role of unpaid carer and are working for longer this is playing field which is not only impractical but is naïve in a changing environment.
It is a time for employers to be engaging in adjustment and health provisions; promoting the good practice exemplified in My Skills, My Strengths, My Work showcasing employment as a two way partnership between employee and employer. Scottish Government initiatives including Fit for Work and a Fair Work Convention also highlight the desire to positively challenge employers to make adjustments which would result in an inclusive workforce.
The journey to 1 April 2017 will hopefully be one which will enhance the understanding of long term conditions and self management in regards to employability; see the creation of a holistic employability services and an opportunity to work with employers to support the adjustment of the workplace to an environment to a flexibility and inclusion.