Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson is encouraging local businesses to recognise the many benefits of employing people with disabilities.
The Scottish Government has launched a campaign to give small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) information on how to access this often untapped talent pool.
Only 41.7% of disabled people aged 16 to 64 are in employment, compared with 81.5% of people without a disability. As part of efforts to redress the balance, an internship programme for disabled people run by Inclusion Scotland will be opened up to SMEs.
Mr Matheson said: “The Scottish Government believes disabled people should have equal access to job opportunities and I welcome this campaign to help tackle the barriers and reduce the employment gap.
“This isn’t just about creating a more inclusive workforce – it’s also about making businesses aware that they might miss out on some of the best talent by not recruiting from the widest possible pool. They will also find that disabled staff members are among the most loyal and engaged employees.
“What’s more, schemes such as Access to Work could help to cover any additional costs that may arise from employing a disabled person.
“I would encourage businesses in Falkirk district to find out more about the campaign and the practical and financial support available to those who employ disabled people.”
Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman added: “This important campaign seeks to dispel the myths that employing disabled people is too costly, too difficult or will affect profitability. The reality is disabled people have a wealth of skills and talents that are too often unnoticed or ignored.”
Find out more at www.employabilityinscotland.com or inclusionscotland.org/information