A disability conference organised by a leading provider of employability services, Seetec Pluss and Cheshire East Council, took place on Friday 13th March in Crewe.
The conference encouraged employers to embrace the skills and talents that people with disabilities or health conditions can bring to the workforce.
Key speakers presenting at the event encouraged local employers to consider hiring workers with health conditions or disabilities, looking to bridge the current employment gap in key sectors. Businesses attending the event also got the chance to network, meet potential employees and share best practices with a range of other Disability Confident employers.
Speakers at the event, held within the Municipal Buildings in Crewe, included Kieran Mullan MP, Lord lieutenant, David Briggs, Arcus, Londis, AO World PC and Wychwood Park hotel and leisure group.
The event followed on from the revelation that despite unemployment being at its lowest since the 1970’s, people with disabilities are still facing setbacks. Statistics from The House of Commons* show that 51.7% of people with disabilities in employment compared to 81.7% of people in the UK without a disability in employment. As well as findings suggesting that only 6% of people with a learning disability and 15% of people on the autistic spectrum are in employment.
Seetec Pluss aims to increase the number of people with disabilities finding employment, working closely with them to develop and nurture a wealth of skills. The disability conference looked to shine a light on a number of issues that disabled individuals face, including inflexible recruitment procedures and preconceived notions. By working with Seetec Pluss and making simple adjustments, employers can access staff that are loyal, talented and hardworking.
As well as speaking at the event, Kieran Mullan MP presented the Achiever of the Year awards, with Benji Woods being named as the deserving winner.
Benji had been attending an SEN school and had struggled with his concentration, reading, writing and comprehension. He had developed a keen interest in bicycles, modifying his and his brother’s bikes. He wanted to do something more challenging and in 2019 Cheshire East Council’s Supported Employment team helped to identify a suitable volunteer placement for him, introducing him to Community Recycle Cycles in Crewe. Here Benji learnt to prepare the bikes to be sold in the shop, initially starting off with a mentor, but now able to get on with his work without support. The placement has enabled his confidence and self‐esteem increase and he has moved on to helping with more complex tasks.
Kieran Mullan MP said: “It was a fantastic event. It is so important to raise awareness of the skills and talents that people with disabilities and health conditions can bring to business – as we’ve seen here. A great opportunity for employers to learn and support each other, and embrace diversity in the workplace.”
The Lord-Lieutenant also presented the Cheshire East Employer of the Year, with Arcus Group receiving the award.
Steven Nielsen, Manager at Arcus, said “We are delighted to have won the Cheshire East Employer of the Year award. Seetec Pluss has been a great support and working with them has given us access to some really great employees who are hard-working, committed and enthusiastic.”
The Work and Health Programme is co-financed by the European Social Fund