Students Staff

18 January 2011

Seminar to Bust the Myths about Employing Disabled People

The University of Essex is working in partnership with the Essex County Council-funded Ways to Work (W2W) network to highlight the benefits of employing disabled people and to showcase the support available to businesses across the county.

As part of the partnership the University will be hosting a special half-day seminar from 9am to 12.30pm on Friday 21 January aimed at companies based in Essex.

The seminar titled Helping Your Business - Benefits of Employing and Serving Disabled People is designed for small and medium sized companies and will feature experts in the area of supported employment. Dr Bob Watt from the University's School of Law will also provide an insight into the current legal context including the impact of the Equality Act 2010.

Professor David Crawford from the University's Research and Enterprise Office said: "The aim of the seminar is to encourage businesses in Essex to think about how they recruit disabled people and to highlight the wealth of talent they could be overlooking."

W2W is managed by the Shaw Trust and is a network of organisations that helps disabled people into employment and works to remove barriers to employment.

Trust regional manager Peter Alder said: "New legislation and the demands of corporate responsibility are forcing companies to think about how to employ and support people with disabilities, but it also makes good business sense.

"This is not about just ticking a box. We want to see how we can work with individuals and employers to build a relationship which makes a positive contribution to the company and continues to develop.

"We want to get employers to recognise the opportunities which are out there.

"A range of programmes are available to support individuals with disabilities into employment."

A report by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills estimated the disabled consumer market is worth between £40-80 billion per year, meaning firms not switched on to disabled issues risk missing out on valuable business opportunities.

Mark Neville, from the county council's Community Wellbeing team, said: "If you consider how many people there are with disabilities in the UK - their contribution to society and the economy is huge.

"Being aware of the needs of disabled customers can help businesses unlock a huge potential market worth billions of pounds.

"Disabled people also often have the commitment and skills which employers are looking for."

The seminar was previously due to take place in December to coincide with the United Nations' International Day of Persons with Disabilities, but had to be rearranged due to the bad weather.

For further information please call Julia Galaway at W2W Essex on 01206 548965 or go to: the Helping Your Business: Benefits of Employing and Serving Disabled People booking page

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