Stuart Jacob, Director of Falkland House School and coalition member, writes in The Herald to raise awareness of the positive contributions those with ASN can bring to the workplace and encourage employers to give all young people an equal chance at a career.
The final episode of the BBC 2 Documentary, Employable Me, finished last week.
The programme followed job seekers who wanted to show that their disabilities shouldn’t prevent them from getting a job, like everybody else.
As well as highlighting the need for more awareness around equal access and job opportunities for people with Additional Support Needs (ASN), the series has been heart-warming viewing, encouraging employers to look passed the label and see the unique skills these individuals can bring to an organisation.
It not only gives those with ASN, such as learning difficulties, autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette’s syndrome and physical and mental health problems confidence, but it also gives more people, including employers, a better understanding of the positive contributions such individuals can bring to the workforce.
Over 153,000 pupils in Scotland’s schools are classed as having ASN, representing more than one in five of the pupil population. Those young people with ASN, alongside those with care experience, represent some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised members of our society, with lower educational attainment than those not in this group, impacting on employment opportunities.
School leavers with ASN, for example, are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as those with no ASN. In addition, those with care experience have some of the poorest educational and employment outcomes of any group of young people.
Facing barriers to employment, the young people in these categories often face disjointed journeys from school into post-school education and into the world of work, highlighting the need for early intervention and improved transitions into employment.
The work of the previous Scottish Government in getting young people into employment, including those with ASN and care experience is to be welcomed, and we can only hope that this continues, with greater support as well as greater promotion of the support available.
We would also encourage employers to give these young people a chance and at the same time help their businesses succeed, especially in the sectors where we are currently facing a skills shortage.
If we are to deliver sustainable economic growth and create a more equal society it is vital that all those in our society are able to reach their full potential and contribute economically. The rewards of getting these young people, many of whom boast excellent skills, into work are well worth it, with higher loyalty and retention rates.
Without this we are doing not only our young people, but our economy a great disservice.