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Valued in Work

18 December 2018

Man presents in front of audience
Dr Stephen Beyer of the National Centre for Mental Health at Cardiff University chaired the workshop

Cardiff Business School has marked this year’s International Day for Disabled People with a Valued in Work workshop organised by Engage to Change.

The action learning event, designed by the South West Employment Institute (SWEI), brought together employers and professionals from ELITE to help craft better working relationships with those that help them recruit and employ people with learning disabilities.

The Dr Stephen Beyer of the National Centre for Mental Health at Cardiff University chaired the workshop which was led by Liz Garnham from SWEI.

Delegates were welcomed by Professor Rachel Ashworth, Dean of Cardiff Business School, who outlined the School’s commitment to promoting public value through its research, engagement and teaching.

Man and woman in front of audience
Delegates were welcomed by Professor Rachel Ashworth

Part of this is mission includes deepening engagement with organisations across Wales to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Changing mind-sets

The day was highly interactive and gave attendees the opportunity to strengthen and build relationships, share learning, and talk through issues and solutions during a series of breakout sessions.

“It’s really nice to network and meet people from different backgrounds with different views on how we recruit, perceive and portray people with learning disabilities, and how we need to change our mind-sets to get them into employment.”

Dewi, Store manager at Co-op Food

Dewi was joined at the event by his colleague Carol, a Learning Facilitator for Co-op Food. The pair is set to work closely with Engage to Change project partner ELITE Supported Employment.

ELITE will attend Co-op’s Store Manager Area meetings and Carol hopes to broaden the partnership from Cardiff across South and West Wales.

“I think it’s about thinking outside the box, thinking about how we do things differently and how we challenge ourselves. So it does get you thinking.”

Nicki Flower, Learning and Development Manager from Bridgend Council

Nicki is now thinking about practical solutions in some of the Council’s hard-to-recruit areas, including how practices might be altered, where roles are advertised, and how best to link up with college-leavers and school-leavers from special education schools.

Unique value

Woman and man present at event
Delegates heard from Sam and his manager Zsuzsana, who combined to deliver an inspirational story about Sam’s journey to employment

Employment of people with learning disabilities in both the public and private sector is currently lower than that of other disadvantaged groups.

Valued in Work offers the tools and facilitates the connections to enable employers to capitalise on a largely untapped talent pool, as well as accessing the necessary support to employ staff who will add unique value to their workforce.

Delegates heard from Sam and his manager Zsuzsana, who combined to deliver an inspirational story about Sam’s journey to employment from the perspective of both employee and employer.

Sam has worked as a Learning Support Assistant for over a year at Craig-y-Parc School, a special education school North of Cardiff.

Sam initially received support from Engage to Change, and his story illustrated the benefits that can be gained by employers through making reasonable adjustments to recruit and employ people with disabilities.

Just one of Sam’s attributes in the role is that pupils can relate to him and view him as a role model, an inspiration for what can be achieved in their working lives.

Correcting the imbalance

Woman leads small group work
The day was highly interactive and gave attendees the opportunity to strengthen and build relationships, share learning, and talk through issues and solutions during a series of breakout sessions

There are also economic benefits for organisations who employ people with learning disabilities and/or autism.

Evidence shows that they can perform systematic but complex roles to a high industry standard, often in high-turnover posts that are hard to fill.

Correcting the imbalance caused by their under-representation in the workforce presents other advantages in better reflecting the client base of businesses.

Valued in Work was structured around best practice in the core recruitment processes of attracting, selecting and employing people with a learning disability and/or autism, and imparted information about the processes and outcomes of employing people successfully.

Attendees came away from the day with new perspectives and knowledge, strengthened links with potential partners, and a renewed commitment to improving the lives of people with learning disabilities and/or autism through inclusive and accessible employment practices.

Find out more about how we are embedding our public value strategy across our research, teaching and governance.