Reducing the disability gap
A team of Cardiff University researchers is leading the debate around reducing the disability employment gap in the UK.
A recent conference - Closing Disability Gaps at Work – organised by the School of Social Sciences and Cardiff Business School, aimed to inform various organisations’ responses to the Green Paper issued by the UK Government as the first step towards meeting their pledge to halve the gap between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people by the end of the current parliament.
It also served the purpose of bringing together the different kinds of organisations that have an interest in improving the lives of disabled people such as the umbrella body Disability Rights UK and national charities like Macmillan Cancer Support.
The conference opened with key presentations from Dame Professor Carol Black, the government’s special advisor on work and health, and Nicola Gilpin, Lead Analyst in the Government’s Work and Health Unit.
They were followed by sessions which highlighted the research done at Cardiff University on disabled employees and the disability gap, and then by four parallel workshop sessions which focused on policy solutions and innovations in practice.
Professor Ralph Fevre of the School of Social Sciences and Professor Melanie Jones, Professor Victoria Wass and Dr Deborah Foster from Cardiff Business School organised the event. Ralph said: “What we learnt from the conference is that there is a great deal of great work going on without the responsible organisations necessarily being able to find the means to share that work with other organisations in their own sector, and still less with those further afield. This means that research, policy recommendations, good practice and innovation is not shared between disabled people’s organisations as much as it could be; and that there is even less sharing between these organizations and trade unions or doctors and nurses in occupational health.
“For example, occupational therapists are doing some great work with Macmillan Cancer Support but the lessons of this work need to be spread far and wide.”
The conference signals the start of a process for the team on Cardiff University’s Disabled Employment Evidence-based Partnerships (DEEPEN) project in which they intend to use the relevant research done in the School of Social Sciences and Cardiff Business School as a way of extending collaborative work between all of the organisations that were represented at the conference as well as other interested stakeholders.