“How do we improve employment opportunities for intellectually disabled people?”

by Phil O’Reilly, New Zealand Herald, 28 September 2016

Mr O’Reilly is the former head of Business NZ, chief executive of Iron Duke Partners Ltd, and chair of the business and industry advisory committee to the OECD.

In this opinion piece for the New Zealand Herald he challenges business which think “disability employment is a politically correct add-on to their diversity policies. Instead, employers need to orientate their business planning from the outset to include people with disabilities. They need to think about integration at every turn – training, job design, employment branding, HR, recruitment and staff retention.”

Whether you are disabled or not, working brings with it huge benefits, and not just financial. When you work you have a purpose, you gain self-esteem and confidence, you engage with others, you have a sense of achievement, you feel good – and it’s social and enjoyable. On a wider scale, employment helps promote social equality, well-being and cohesion and helps reduce crime.

So, the challenge then is how do we improve employment opportunities for our intellectually disabled people?

This has been the main topic of a conference in Auckland this week hosted by IHC.

If we can increase our efforts, people with a disability will find great jobs and keep them, not because of sympathy but because they are the best person for that job and are willing and capable of being held to account on that basis.

If we can achieve this, we can create real acceptance, strengthen our connectedness and, at the same time, expand our workforce to include people who might otherwise remain on the fringe.

Click here to read the full article.