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Beating unemployment

Published Date: 10 Aug 2020
Photo: Deaf young people leaving education may now be up against a double barrier - a lack of jobs as well as the discrimination they have always faced.

Unemployment has not been a big topic in the news for some time. However, COVID-19 has changed everything and all of a sudden we are making comparisons with the 1980s when the numbers of unemployed people went over 3 million.

Whilst deaf people work in a wide range of jobs, they do face barriers to employment particularly if employers do not make reasonable adjustments or deaf people don’t have access to communication support. This led us to launch Deaf Works Everywhere earlier this year to help ensure deaf young people are empowered, inspired and supported to prepare to move into work.

We are concerned about what this economic crisis will mean for deaf young people leaving education. They may now be up against a double barrier - a lack of jobs as well as the discrimination they have always faced. This is why we got involved with the Youth Employment Group, a coalition of organisations focusing on the impact of pandemic on the employment prospects of young people.

The message of the group appeared to have got through to the Treasury and last month the Chancellor unveiled a package of measures to support young job-seekers. These include:

  • A £2-billion Kickstart scheme for young people aged 16-24 on universal credit to provide them with 6 month work placements
  • An expansion of traineeships – these are work placements which are done alongside training, similar to apprenticeships but shorter and unpaid
  • Encouraging employers to offer more apprenticeships to young people
  • Expanding the number of careers advisors within the National Careers Service
  • ‘High-value’ courses for school or college leavers aged 18 or 19

The above initiatives are England-only except the Kickstart scheme which is UK-wide.

Whilst these measures are helpful, we are keen to ensure that deaf young people can benefit from them. We set up a meeting of organisations with an interest in disabled young people including; the Institute for Employment Studies, Disability Rights UK and Leonard Cheshire, to talk about what the issues might be for disabled young people in accessing the initiatives in the Plan for Jobs.

Together, we came up with a group of 8 policy recommendations that we sent to the Chancellor in a letter. These include expanding who can take a Kickstart work placement and additional incentive funding for employers providing apprenticeships, traineeships or supported internships for disabled apprentices.

We await the response from the Government. It is so important that disabled young people don’t end up being further disadvantaged by this crisis. We also see this as an opportunity to really think about the support deaf young people need to move from education to work and gain a better system for the future.

If you are a young person or a parent of a young person who is looking for or thinking about looking for work we would love to hear about your experiences. What is like to apply for work right now? Email: [email protected]

Martin McLean

Lead: Post-14 Policy and Practice

The National Deaf Children's Society