Headlines: February 4th, 2010

There has been a marked shift in the support given to disabled people to get and keep jobs, according to Ofsted inspectors in a report on the Workstep programme. In a report today they highlight the wide range of approaches taken by organisations, including local authorities, but say the number of disabled people being helped into work is still too low.

The report, “Improving progression to unsupported employment: A review of strategies developed by Workstep providers”, shows the best providers have build relationships with employers and that they ensure participants are well matched to the skills needs of local businesses and the jobs available.  Some larger providers have also fostered positive arrangements with national companies.

The Workstep programme is specifically for disabled people who need additional support so they can sustain work. Most of them work in the open labour market through supported placements with mainstream employees. A smaller number work in businesses set up to employ disabled people. The survey looked at a sample of 21 Workstep providers, more than half of them local authorities. The findings are based on visits to them and to 49 employers as well as discussions with participants and staff from the Department of Work and Pensions.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector at Ofsted said: “The proportion of disabled adults in the Workstep programme progressing into sustained, unsupported employment is improving but it remains far too low. This report shows how the best Workstep programmes help individuals build their independence, develop everyday skills and gain the confidence to reach their potential.”