Work experience is key to ensuring blind young people are not left behind

In January 2017, RSBC merged with the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB). Although we are now called RSBC, there may be some references to RLSB in the following article.

As unemployment falls, work experience holds the key to ensuring blind young people aren’t left behind.

This morning official figures reported that the UK unemployment rate has fallen to 2.02 million, which is the lowest level since 2008 financial crisis. The number of jobless people fell by 146,000 in the three months to July.

Research shows that blind and partially sighted young people struggle to secure meaningful employment. Nine out of 10 employers rate blind people as either ‘difficult’ or ‘impossible’ to employ. It’s estimated that 90% of those who lose their sight in youth won’t work for more than six months in their lives. Many are living on the bread line.

RLSB Chief Executive, Dr. Tom Pey said of today’s news: “It’s vital that government and charities work together to ensure that economic growth benefits all members of society, including vision impaired young people.”

Earlier this year the Youth Forum at the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) released England’s first ever Youth Manifesto laying out solutions to the challenges faced by vision impaired young people. One of the main challenges that the Youth Forum identified was gaining meaningful employment.

In June the RLSB Youth Forum worked with RLSB to produce a resource aimed at ensuring young people, employers and careers advisors were equipped with the information they needed about the support available and the abilities of blind young people. The Let’s Work It Out resource was launched in the House of Commons with the support of the Rt. Hon. Michael Fallon MP, Nick Hurd MP, former Minister for Disabled People, Mike Penning MP and Kate Green MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty. Barclays and Transport for London also welcomed the resource.

Elaine Draper, Director, Accessibility & Inclusion at Barclays who represented Barclays at the event went on to say: “As a business, we rely on a work force that truly represents and reflects our customers and clients. A disability should never prevent someone from having a successful career, which is why we urge all businesses to get on board and offer work opportunities to blind young people.”

The former Minister for Disabled People, Mike Penning MP, supported the Let’s Work It Out resource, saying: “Vision impaired people have huge potential but amongst employers there is often a lack of awareness of the technology and support available for them. I hope that RLSB’s pack is a practical move towards changing perceptions of their ability.”

Mike Penning MP backed the Let’s Work it Out campaign directly by offering RLSB Youth Forum member Courtney Nugent a three week placement within the Department for Work and Pensions.

Courtney recently said of her work experience: “Waking up every morning knowing that I was going to work made me have a positive outlook, because I knew I was doing something meaningful. I can honestly say that work experience is an essential gateway for vision impaired young people to get into work. It helped me build skills, confidence and friendships in many different areas.”

RLSB and the RLSB Youth Forum call on employers to ensure that those who lose their sight in youth are not left behind. Offering work experience placements to young people is vital to support the leaders of tomorrow today. 


June 27, 2014

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