What Works in Wales? Developing an evidence base to inform a kitemark for employers to address the disability employment gap

This research project is available across the ESRC Wales (DTP). Find out more information about the DTP and how to apply.

The aim of the project is to identify an evidence base of ‘what works’ for disabled people in employment, to contribute to DWs participation in the creation of a Welsh Disability Standard for employers.


This project is in collaboration with Disability Wales. The student will work with Disability Wales during the PhD to develop an evidence base to address the disability employment gap in Wales.

In June 2018, Disability Wales Chief Executive Rhian Davies was a keynote speaker at a launch event organised by the Learning and Work Institute Cymru and the Welsh Government. This made 6 recommendations: one was to ‘develop a Wales Disability Standard’: a kitemark for employers to be part of the Welsh Government ‘Employability Action Plan’, which the student, in collaboration with Disability Wales, will help develop.

Much existing research on the disability employment gap concentrates on the number of disabled people out of work, often driving the short term political objective of getting disabled people off benefits and into any kind of work and overlooking the importance of job quality and careers. This project aims to highlight what disabled people themselves regard as best practice in employment: currently under-documented in the literature. It is interested in identifying factors, whether organisational, technological, structural, economic or attitudinal, that facilitate employment and specific initiatives that represent ‘best practice’.

Project aims and methods

Research will focus on 3 key questions:

  1. What factors contribute to the persistent disability employment gap in Wales?
  2. How can findings from the DRILL programme, which used co-production as a research methodology and provides unprecedented insights into disabled people’s experiences of society, the economy and polity, inform employment policies and practice?
  3. What already works for disabled people in employment and how could future initiatives build on existing initiatives/practice to inform the development of a Welsh standard for employers?

Stage one will involve a secondary analysis of relevant data from DRILL projects alongside a documentary analysis of regional sources to develop an understanding of the Welsh context. This may involve interviews with key participants of these data sources. The project will then develop ‘profiles’ of good practice. It is envisaged these will be drawn from regional, national or international examples of organisations, occupations, or successful social policy or third sector initiatives. Creating ‘profiles’ will entail interviewing key actors and stakeholders as well as evaluating the stated outcomes. Where appropriate and ethical, media will also form part of the data collection. Visual media might, for example be appropriate to record evidence of inclusive and accessible technology, or built environment. The ultimate aim is to identify an evidence base of ‘what works’ for disabled people in employment, to contribute to DWs participation in the creation of a Welsh Disability Standard for employers.

Suitable candidates with experience of third sector organisations and a lived experience of disability are particularly encouraged to apply.


Deborah Foster

Professor Deborah Foster

Professor of Employment Relations and Diversity

+44 (0)29 2087 5358

Programme information

For programme structure, entry requirements and how to apply, visit the programme.

View programme

Related links