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World: How to create more disability entrepreneurs

Wed, 28 Mar 2018, 04:00 PM

Professor Thomas Cooney, RTE, 27 March 2018
It is now widely recognised that people with disabilities suffer significant discrimination regarding employment opportunities. Yet, it remains a surprise to many people that approximately 13 percent of the population of Ireland are "registered disabled" and that just 30 percent of people of working age with disabilities participate in the workforce.
A 2005 report by the National Disability Authority (2005) noted that people with disabilities have lower hourly earnings than their non-disabled peers. The report also identified a wide range of other inequalities experienced by people with disabilities, including that just over half (50.8 percent) have no formal second-level educational qualifications and that they are over-represented in part-time employment.
A low level of educational attainment is just one factor that influences the capacity of a disabled person to secure employment. Other factors affecting an individual’s ability or willingness to supply their labour are likely to include the severity of the disability, access to and within a potential workplace, beliefs about the likelihood of facing discrimination and the trade-off between employment income and benefit receipts.
It is an unfortunate fact that there are currently no tailored entrepreneurship support programs for people with disability in Ireland.
But it is not just the potential employee that might be reluctant to work for a company, as employers equally may not be open to employing a person with a disability. A 2006 report by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions found that owner-managers of SMEs identified a wide variety of reasons for not employing a person with a disability. These reasons include financial incentives which do not necessarily meet the needs of either employer or employee; employment quotas and anti-discrimination legislation with little practical effect on SME employer behaviour; health and safety and insurance regulations perceived as a barrier and recruitment and HR practices which rarely recognise the value of equal opportunity. However, the personal experiences of employers who may have a family member or friend with a disability can have a positive influence towards their willingness to offer a person with a disability a position within their firm.
To address existing employment imbalances, the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities (2015-2024) has identified multiple approaches which need to be taken if the Irish workforce is to become truly inclusive of people with disabilities. Within this strategy, entrepreneurship is one of the activities identified that requires targeted action, an ambition that follows closely on recent successful targeted supports that have been offered to women, immigrants, youth, seniors, unemployed and other under-represented groups in terms of entrepreneurial activity. However, it is an unfortunate fact that there are currently no tailored entrepreneurship support programs for people with disability in Ireland.
Read: the full article at RTE

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