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Employment Group

The government’s Access to Work programme provides practical support to help you stay in work or get a job if you are disabled or have a health condition. It is run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Employment Group (EG) is reinvigorated and in full operation on employment related activities. EG has a bridging role to encompass different government departments and organisations involved in support, education and employment of Deaf and hard of hearing people.

The EG endavours to take the lead on the job issues that have been impacting the Deaf community. In this respect the EG continues efforts from previous years with Access to Work but also concentrates on the pertinent job issues of gig economy such as volunteering, self-employment and entrepreneurship. We have started preliminary dialogue with potential partner organisations and have received a positive response and willingness to get involved so expanding the Employment Group beyond our vision for Access to Work issues will support better those entering employment or transiting from education into job markets.

In the current climate, many Deaf people have either lost jobs or were asked to reduce hours, especially Deaf in the manual labour sector. Those Deaf people are then often asked to apply or reapply for a similar job to re-join the company they used to work for. To do this, they have to undertake interviews with other mainstream candidates, who are often upfront. Prior to these applications the Deaf are missing out on information on re- training opportunities or up-skill due to the obvious reasons of communication barriers, so even before they start they are often left at a disadvantaged position where they have to compete for scarce jobs with mainstream candidates.

Employers are not always quick to pick up on these and rectify in the forms of adjustment necessary to support Deaf people due to the current disconnect we all operate in. However, our experience has taught us that even when the pandemic has settled, eventually there will be   room for improvements and the input from our reinvigorated group in working broadly with DWP and other central government departments. For example, we would like to offer the support to young people who are moving from education into employment. This is traditionally often neglected area because usually the funding schemes available to young people do not overlap but exclude them from ability to make smooth transition. For this purpose, we believe that modernisation and levelling up the efforts of the group is not only necessary but it is needed, welcomed and currently missing.

By having an agreed vision, organisations that work with and support deaf and deafblind people have convinced the Department for Work and Pensions to make some changes. They include:

  • more and better guidance
  • more awareness training for advisers
  • allowing people to contact them by email or use BSL video
  • publishing the guidance for advisors: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/974814/access-to-work-staff-guide-apr-2021.pdf
  • a pilot of personal budgets
  • quicker responses to requests

Of course, not everything has been fixed yet and problems still come up. If you need help or advice please send us your story now.

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