Talking about tomorrow


Support into work

Finding information

Organisations may not mention anything about disability in their information or on their websites, but it doesn’t mean they can’t help.

Programmes are often funded to help people who are at a disadvantage – including because of a disability – so it’s worth contacting them to ask what they can offer.

Some Job Centres have Disability Employment Advisers, and hold a list of local supported employment services.

You can search for employment services on your council’s website, or phone them and ask what programmes there are for young people who face barriers getting into work. Some local authorities have a Youth Employment Action Plan (YEAP) online that identifies sources of employability support.

Skills Development Scotland has details of local programmes and services to support young disabled people into work. You can make an appointment at one of their local careers centres. Click here to search for your nearest centre.

The Scottish Union for Supported Employment (SUSE) has a list of services and their website has sections both for employers and for disabled people. Click here for further information.

Many charities also offer programmes that help people prepare for work and support them into jobs, for example Inclusion Scotland and Employability Scotland.

Supported employment services

Supported employment services can help with training, volunteering, work placements, job search and interview skills, finding suitable vacancies, health and wellbeing support, welfare and benefits advice and in work support once someone has found a job. They can also advise employers on reasonable adjustments and developing accessible and inclusive workplaces and practices.

Supported employment services are provided by charitable organisations such as Enable, the Scottish Association for Mental Health or RNIB Scotland; local authorities, e.g. West Lothian Council’s Access 2 Employment service; or government programmes such as Fair Start Scotland.

They are free and people don’t usually need to be referred by a professional. They may offer a training allowance or have an arrangement to ensure people don’t lose social security benefits while taking part.

You can contact Fair Start Scotland by phone or use their web form to find out more about organisations working in your area. 

Supported businesses

In these businesses at least 30% of employees must be disabled, and their aim is the ‘social and professional integration of disabled people’.

They can be particularly effective where people need a support worker to keep them on task and develop their confidence and skills. Supported businesses are an alternative to daycare activity centres – they offer work that contributes towards the economy, reduces reliance on benefits and provides a sense of value and self worth. Disabled employees are also supported into mainstream employment where possible.

There are businesses throughout Scotland, ranging from furniture, textiles and laundry services to packing and fulfilment, office support services and IT recycling. A number of ‘protected places’ are reserved for disabled people, and many businesses work with a supported employment service to help disabled people access them. Click here for a directory of supported businesses in Scotland and contact the business directly to find out about their training and recruitment opportunities.

Social enterprises

These are independent businesses with a social or environmental mission, and all their profits go back into progressing that mission.

Many social enterprises provide training and jobs for people who face barriers to employment, including disabled people.

Social Enterprise Scotland has a search facility of members on their website. Contact a social enterprise directly to find out about current opportunities.

Inclusive Employers

Inclusive Employers is a membership organisation of mainstream employers committed to developing inclusive policies and practices. Click here for a list of Inclusive Employers members throughout the UK.

Disability Confident Employers

The Department for Work and Pensions runs Disability Confident, a body of employers who have signed up to commitments to increase the recruitment and retention of disabled people. There are over 6000 Disability Confident employers in the UK. You can read more about the scheme on the Disability Confident website.  

The Disability Confident logo on vacancies means the employer welcomes and encourages applications from disabled people and has committed to making sure their policies and practices are inclusive and accessible.  The website also has a list of employers who have signed up.

Project Search

This is an unpaid one year transition training programme that supports young people with learning disabilities and/or autism into paid sustainable employment. It includes on the job training and support from a job coach. The programme is delivered by three partners – a host employer (often a public sector body like the NHS or the council), a training provider (usually a college) and a supported employment service.

Participants develop work skills for mainstream employment and are supported to apply for jobs once the programme ends. It has excellent success rates, with a high percentage of Project Search trainees finding paid employment. 

Project Search is available in 10 areas throughout Scotland and recruitment is by interview. Google Project Search programmes in Scotland or check your local area by googling ‘Youth Employment Activity Plan’ and your council’s name.

Self employment

For some disabled people, self employment can be a good choice as it lets them work in a way and to a timetable that suits them. Job Centres, Business Gateway and other organisations can provide support in setting up a business, but many people may need ongoing help with managing business administration including tax and accounting.

The organisation iwork4me provides free self-employment business coaching for people on the autistic spectrum across Scotland.

Real Life Stories

Paid work possible? Absolutely!

Twin brothers Stuart and Matthew have Fragile X syndrome – a genetic condition that causes learning disabilities. Neither can read or write well, and they can ...

Window on the world of work

Kate arranged for her 16-year-old son Connor to do an 8-week work experience placement at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness. The impact on his confidence ...