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19th - 20th March 2025
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30 Nov 2022

Examining Unemployment Rates - Enable Magazine

As media outlets report record low unemployment figures, the true picture for people with a learning disability isn’t being spoken about

Earlier in 2022, the latest NHS Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework revealed that some areas of England had no adults with a learning disability in paid employment last year.

The information comes as the UK Government report that the overall unemployment rate for June to August 2022 was just 3.5 per cent, the lowest rate seen since December to February 1974. While this is positive for the overall job market, it masks the true state of employment for people with a learning disability who are able to work.

Employment and skills programmes exist for this community, and their ideas could benefit employers around the country and the wider jobs market.


DFN Project SEARCH ( have been running a transition to work programme for students with learning disabilities and autism in the UK since 2008. Now, the organisation is aiming to highlight this under-utilised group to employers.

“Inclusion Revolution is all about saying to employers ‘we’re not sure if you know about this hidden talent pool and you may want to run supported internships’,” explains Claire Crooksoon, chief executive at DFN Project SEARCH. “Through Inclusion Revolution, employers can partner with us for training and advice on recruitment practises, in-work support, and how to get the best out of this incredible talent pool.”

Input from the organisation’s youth advisory board showed that barriers exist in recruitment as well as the workplace, contributing to this gap. Creating more inclusive employment opportunities, especially for young people with a learning disability, can’t just be a tick box or a PR move anymore: it has to be mirrored in companies’ actions and practices.

When faced with exclusionary recruitment practices, pathways into paid employment can help open doors for people with a learning disability.


Supported employment charity Little Gate ( was created after the founder, Claire, became concerned about finding meaningful employment opportunities as someone with a learning disability. Claire decided to launch a work training programme on a farm to improve the opportunities available for people with learning disabilities and autism.

“They work with the animals, learn to cook and we’ve also got a huge woodland,” reveals Andrea Randall-Smith, the chief executive of the charity.

During her time at the organisation, Andrea has seen many people find paid employment but now worries about what the future holds.

“What we’re looking at now with the cost of living crisis is everyone tightening their belts,” shares Andrea. “The reality is some small employers are going to cut the amount of staff, and especially part-time staff, that they have if they’re not busy.”

These worries could now become a reality and further lower the employment rate for people with a learning disability.

“Nationally, what I’d want to see are changes so that everyone has a supported employment model so that it doesn’t matter what your difference might be, you’ll be able to find stable, paid work,” offers Andrea.

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