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Beating unemployment

Published Date: 10 Jul 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 appears to have got through to the Treasury - this week 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 (England)
  • ‘High-value’ courses for school or college leavers aged 18 or 19

How can we make sure that deaf young people also benefit from these initiatives? We await the detail on these but in the meantime we will be asking key questions to civil servants and politicians such as:

  • What support is available to deaf young people to find and move onto a Kickstart work placement, traineeship or apprenticeship?
  • Is Access to Work funding available to those on the Kickstart Scheme?
  • Can the National Careers Service provide useful advice to deaf young people about the support or adjustments they can access in employment?
  • Will deaf young people taking a ‘high-value’ course have the same access to support as they would have had at a younger age?

If you are a young person or a parent of a young person who is looking for or thinking about looking for work, please tell us what you think about the Chancellor’s announcements. Are they enough for you? What do you think deaf young job-seekers need right now? Email your thoughts and views to [email protected]

Martin McLean

Lead: Post-14 Policy and Practice

The National Deaf Children's Society