SEND stands for Special Educational Needs and Disability and applies to young people who have a learning difficulty and/or disability that means they need special health and education support. This is sometimes written as SEN, as not everyone with a special educational need has a disability. Many young people with SEND will have an education, health and care plan (EHCP), which identifies their educational, health and social needs and the additional support to meet these. Those who do not have an EHCP will receive SEN support from their school. In adulthood, ‘learning disability or difficulty’ is used rather than SEND
Young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) need help to make the difficult transition from school to the professional world. People with the most severe forms of SEND can find it difficult to enter the world of work. In the 2019-20 financial year, 5.6% of adults with learning disabilities aged 18-64 who were receiving support from social services were in paid employment, compared to 5.9% in the previous year. The employment rate for disabled people is 49.2% and 80.6% for the rest of the population not classed as having a disability. This is a shockingly low statistic and one that highlights the challenges young students with SEND face as they transition from education into employment. These statistics alone provide a compelling reason for wanting to improve the employment outcomes for young people with SEND, even without considering the benefits you as an employer can gain which are explored later on in this article.
SEND Employment Gap
There are a number of reasons for this employment gap, some of the barriers that stop people with a learning disability securing a job could be from a lack of work experience opportunities, through to the often-negative attitudes of employers, a lack of accessible information and uncertainty and fear of whether an employer will be supportive of their needs.
The challenges that schools and colleges face in securing work encounters and experiences of the workplace for their students with SEND, are very often due to a number of barriers and misconceptions. The social model of disability says that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference.
Supporting these young people on their career journey will benefit you and your employees….
Increased employee engagement
Employees who believe they work for an organisation that cares and represents the society within which it operates are likely to be more engaged. You are able to develop your employees as they would be involved and would develop coaching, leadership and management skills.
Improvements in the way you operate or how you market your products/services
With 2.16% of adults in the UK having a learning disability, this demographic is possibly already part of your customer/consumer base, as well as part of your workforce. Therefore, supporting students with SEND can give you an insight into how people with learning disabilities communicate, learn and engage with others. You may discover a better way of marketing your products or services or identifying a clearer way of sharing information about your company. You may learn about what type of adjustments these students may need when they are employed and often, these adjustments will be beneficial to many of your employees.
Identifying a talent pipeline
Depending upon the nature of your business you may find employing young people with SEND brings natural talents so you can work together to nurture specific skills that your business will need in the future.
Improving your diversity outlook and Enhanced reputation
By employing SEND young people you get to appreciate the different abilities of those with learning disabilities and the opportunities that could bring you as an employer who embraces a diverse workforce. By demonstrating your organisation as a socially responsible business, you will appeal to customers/consumers, shareholders and investors alike
The spending power of disabled people in the UK is £249 billion. By being a fully inclusive and responsible business, you will be appealing to those customers/consumers with disabilities
Make a difference today…
By supporting someone with a learning disability into employment, it could increase their income by between 55 and 95 percent, as well as improving their self-esteem. The majority of young students with SEND want to work and live a happy and fulfilled life. Young people with a learning disability can succeed in employment with the right support. This includes support not only to find work, but to develop in their role once they are employed. We welcome any Black Country employers that are willing to give SEND young people a chance to develop their skills, confidence and opportunities. If you would like to advertise live vacancies and work experience opportunities to young people with SEND to contact us NOW.
DPD a Black Country employer offer an Aspire programme to support young adults with SEND into paid employment, but we need more employers who are willing to tap into this talent pool. Could this be you?