The Welsh Government has announced the appointment of a network of Disabled People’s Employment Champions as part of its commitment to improve employment opportunities for disabled people and make businesses in Wales as inclusive as possible.
As experts in inclusivity, the Champions will use their specialist knowledge to promote the benefits of a diverse workforce and provide practical support to businesses across Wales to help them attract, recruit and retain disabled employees.
The announcement is part of Welsh Government’s commitment to tackle the disability employment gap as set out in the Employability Plan.
In 2002, the Welsh Government was the first government to introduce the Social Model of Disability. That means that we recognise that people are disabled by the actions of society – including the attitudes and behaviour of people, organisations and systems – not by their impairments.
The Champions will work with employers across Wales to increase awareness of the availability of talent and skills provided by disabled people, and the support and funding available to businesses to help create environments where disabled people can thrive.
In addition to this, they will be able to advise employers on how they can adapt their recruitment and employment practices to become more inclusive, while dispelling myths and educating employers on the reality of reasonable adjustments
The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, said: “I am delighted to welcome the appointment of these Disabled People’s Employment Champions, who will increase awareness of the talent and skills provided by disabled people. Their expertise and industry experience will help employers remove potential barriers to recruitment, and signpost the support which is available to help disabled people into work.
“Disabled people should be able to access employment from a position of equality with non-disabled people. They should be able to move into roles, and progress within their careers, in a way which matches with their abilities.
“These Champions will work with employers across Wales to help create a workforce that is representative of the society we live in, and is open to all.”
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales said: “Diversity in the workplace is vital for both businesses and employees. It can help boost productivity and profitability, and offers greater opportunities for workers.
“I encourage all employers who wants to benefit from new talents, experiences and perspectives to get in touch with the Disabled People’s Employment Champions to see how they can create and develop their environment so that is representative, open to all and gives the business an additional competitive edge.”
The new Disabled People’s Employment Champions include Welsh entrepreneur Huw Chance and Vice Chair of Unite the Union Wales, Terry Mills.
Terry Mills, who worked with companies to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled employees as a trade union representative, said: “Over 80% of disabled people develop their impairments later in life and it’s important these workers are able to continue achieving their potential in the workplace.
“I’m looking forward to using my own experience and business expertise to support employers across Wales in providing reasonable adjustments for employees who develop disabilities during their working life.”
Huw Chance, entrepreneur and ex-wheelchair rugby player for Wales, said: “Having run my own business for over 20 years, I want to help employers in Wales understand how easy it is to adapt their workplace for a disabled person.
“My aim is to break down information for employers, as well as employees, and help business owners understand how they can access the relevant support they need.”
For more information on how your business can attract, recruit, and retain disabled employees, contact the Disabled People’s Employment Champions by emailing DPEC@gov.wales or visit Skills Gateway for Business.