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Disability Clearkit online service is launched to stimulate job opportunities for disabled talent

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The Clear Company has launched an initiative to get thousands more disabled people into the workplace across the UK.

More than 200 employers including BT, E.On, South Eastern, UK Border Agency and HMRC have worked in association with The Clear Company to create the Disability Clearkit, an online service to share best practice, offer guidance to employers and stimulate employment opportunities for disabled talent.  

The Disability Clearkit has been developed over the past two years, initiated and supported throughout by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in partnership with the Employers Forum on Disability. Maria Miller, minister for disability, has also endorsed it.

Kate Headley, director at The Clear Company, said: "During recent years there have been many initiatives to improve the job prospects for disabled people but the percentage of working-age disabled people in employment has remained stubbornly static at around 47%, compared with an overall rate of around 78%. This is clearly an issue that needs addressing, given the huge pool of disabled talent, which is too often overlooked, and the fact that one in five people in the UK available for work has a disability.

"The programme was initiated by the DWP, concerned by the fact that too many employers remain unsure about recruiting disabled people. The Disability Clearkit has been developed by employers for employers, which makes perfect sense as it is the employers who hold the key to enabling more disabled people to get into work. The research we conducted showed that employers are more likely to be influenced by their peers than by an external third party and that is why employers have been the driving force behind this initiative."

According to the Clear Company, the organisations spearheading the programme have demonstrated a ‘clear business case’ for employing disabled people, particularly in terms of improved staff retention and enhanced customer service. They have shared their knowledge in order to spread best practice and encourage their peers to tap into this under-utilised talent pool.

Poundland has recruited 198 disabled employees in a single year. The turnover of disabled candidates recruited is 4%, compared with 48% of non-disabled recruits. BT provides further evidence through its award-winning Able to Work outplacement programme, which has provided sustainable opportunities for over 300 disabled people to work within BT since the scheme began in 2003. BT’s monitoring has shown that disabled candidates performed as effectively - if not better than - their non-disabled colleagues and this performance analysis included many people who had not worked for a number of years. BT also found that disabled employees remained with the company for longer. More than two thirds (67%) of disabled people recruited have over one year’s service, compared with 46% of non-disabled people.

The Disability Clearkit is an online resource that removes the barriers associated with employing disabled people and guides employers through all the processes linked to recruiting disabled people, retaining talent and, when appropriate, ensuring that rejecting them as candidates is done fairly, based on competence. Aimed at private and public-sector organisations, both large and small, it provides practical support, guidance on best practice, employer case studies, top tips and checklists. It is the first time that all this information has been available and accessible through a single source.

Caroline Waters, director of people and policy at BT commented: "This innovative toolkit dispels the myths that prevent many employers from giving disabled people an opportunity to join their teams. The toolkit is thoroughly constructed for the current economic environment and highlights that being an inclusive employer is about thought and planning, rather than additional costs and resources."

The Disability Clearkit will be freely available to the widest possible range of employers and other stakeholders and, in particular, is a readily-accessible resource for SMEs. In addition to accessing practical advice, the Disability Clearkit provides a standard and framework to work within, which will show commitment to employing disabled talent. There is a further opportunity for those employers and providers aspiring to meet the required standards to become ‘Clear Assured,’ highlighting to candidates, employees and other organisations that they are employers of choice for disabled people seeking the positive job and life opportunities they deserve.