UK businesses say disabled people face barriers when job hunting

Disabled workers

Just over half of UK businesses actively seek and welcome disabled candidates – despite the fact that 73% say that are currently facing skills shortages.

That is according to a survey of 392 employers undertaken by one of the UK’s leading staffing companies and managed recruitment service providers, Intelligent Resource, a Partner organisation of Business Disability Forum (BDF). The survey is the first stage of a wider research project.

In addition, 75% of businesses admit that disabled applicants face barriers when job hunting, with online applications and assessments, face-to-face interviews and telephone interviews flagged as the stages where challenges are most often faced.

The research also found that 80% believe they ‘could do more’ to attract disabled jobseekers while just 40% of those surveyed were ‘very confident’ in supporting disabled jobseekers and existing employees. This desire to improve in this area seems to be reflected in the fact that 67% of companies reported actively recording disability data.

When quizzed on where they turn for support in order to boost disability inclusion, respondents identified HR consultancies, BDF and internal employee networks (selected by 80%, 67% and 60% respectively). Just 7% said they rely on external recruitment providers for assistance.

The findings come at a time when the employment rate for working age disabled people sits at just 52%. For individuals without disabilities, this figure stands at 81.5%.

On the findings, Sara Wright, Quality Assurance Manager and Inclusion Lead for Intelligent Resource commented: “Hiring people with disabilities is often seen as the ‘right thing to do’ – but the business benefits associated with disability inclusion should not be underestimated. Organisations that fail to engage with this community are missing out on a highly-skilled talent pool. In fact, according to recent research by Accenture, companies which champion disabled talent enjoy 28% higher revenues than those which don’t.

“While our research clearly indicates that some employers could be doing more to support disabled individuals, the fact that many are monitoring levels of inclusion – and seeking external support – suggests a widespread appetite to address this.

“Fewer that one in 10 of those surveyed turn to external recruitment providers to boost disability inclusion. However, staffing companies which are Disability Confident and committed to barrier free recruitment are perfectly placed to advise on tapping into this underutilised talent pool. For example, through reviewing existing attraction strategies and suggesting and supporting alternative recruitment methods.”

Diane Lightfoot, CEO at Business Disability Forum, added: “One in five people have a disability and most people acquire their disability when they are of working age. Yet, the percentage of disabled people in employment remains far below the national average.

“External recruitment providers have a vital role to play in promoting disabled talent and supporting employers to remove the barriers that many candidates face when seeking and securing employment.”