The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has urged recruiters to leverage their expertise to help close the disability employment gap following insight which revealed that this has decreased by just 7% over the last 20 years.

In its analysis of recruitment trends from the last two decades, APSCo, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, found that engaging disabled workers is far behind where it should be, with the government’s target to reduce the gap to 16% by 2020 in potential jeopardy.  While stereotypes abound, disabilities may not be visible and can include severe anxiety and depression, or other hidden disabilities like epilepsy, and engagement is key, not only to tapping into this talent pool but also to helping employees with a potentially hidden disability feel safe and comfortable at work.

According to a Labour Force Survey, the disability employment gap in 1998 was 35.9%. In 2019, the House of Commons’ ‘People with disabilities in employment’ report revealed that the current gap is 28.8% – just a 7.1% difference from two decades earlier. Out of the 7.7 million people of working age that reported they had a disability, only 4.1 million were in employment.

According to APSCo, recruiters must utilise their skills to drive change.Commenting on the analysis, Ann Swain, Chief Executive Officer of APSCo, said:

Although it’s good to see some improvement in closing the disability employment gap, this analysis has highlighted how far we have to go until true equality is achieved in recruitment, and there is no one better placed than recruiters to help steer employers in creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Addressing this will not only benefit businesses and candidates, but recruiters too. With skill shortages prevalent in almost every industry, increasing talent pools can massively impact productivity. We must work together to quickly close this gap, and ensure everyone has access to high-quality and rewarding jobs. Recruiters must recognise the role they play in helping to eradicate existing stigmas and promoting changes in workplace infrastructure to support all employees. By flattening obstacles, allowing flexibility and highlighting the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce, we can create a fairer recruitment process and more job opportunities for all.”