Report hits out at Ireland's low disability employment rate
on 16/01/2013 09:47:16
Researchers say international evidence shows the number of disabled people with a job here could rise from 36% to 50% if the right supports were put in place.
Report author Dorothy Watson, associate research professor at the government-funded think-tank ESRI, said Ireland fares badly compared with EU neighbours.
"Even allowing for differences across countries, and how likely people are to admit they have a disability, it looks like the labour market participation rate is low in Ireland compared to other European countries," she said.
Ms Watson said there were a number of reasons for Ireland's low disability employment rate.
These included the country's relatively late approach in treating the matter as an equality issue and government unemployment policies which tended to overlook minorities, such as the disabled or, for example, lone parents.
Ms Watson said the UK has a similar percentage of the population who consider themselves to have a disability.
But disabled adults in Britain were 50% more likely to have a job than in Ireland, she said.
"There is considerable room to enable more people with a disability to enter employment in Ireland," she added.
"Irish and international evidence suggests that, given the right circumstances and supports, about half of working-age people with a disability could be at work instead of the present figure of just over a third."
The ESRI report, produced with the Equality Authority, also found people with a disability are more likely to have experienced discrimination in the workplace.
Latest figures, for 2010, showed almost a fifth of disabled adults were discriminated against, compared to 13% of the rest of the working-age population.
The Equality Authority has urged an overhaul in official policies to help get more disabled people into the workplace.