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Conference Sets Out to Inspire a Nationwide Inclusion Revolution in the Workforce

National charity DFN Project SEARCH has brought together organisations from around the UK and Ireland to inspire an ‘inclusion revolution’ in UK employment practices.

More than 300 delegates from public, private and third-sector organisations attended a conference designed to showcase, debate and share learning on breaking down barriers to inclusive employment.

It was also an opportunity to celebrate the success of Supported Internships up and down the country and acknowledge the life-changing impact they have on the interns who take part - like those pictured above.

The conference was delivered in consultation with DFN Project SEARCH Youth Advisory Group and Alumni Network, ensuring young people with a learning disability and/or autism spectrum condition are in the driving seat when it comes to designing the support they need to get paid meaningful jobs.

“We all know there is a wealth of evidence to prove the social and economic advantages of increasing employment opportunities for young adults with a learning disability and/ or autism spectrum condition and that those advantages are not only felt by the individuals and businesses but for society as a whole,” said Claire Cookson, CEO of DFN Project SEARCH.

“Yet, the national statistics are still far too low than any of us would like. We want to inspire an inclusion revolution to change that.”

Currently, only 4.8% of people with a learning disability in England secure full-time paid employment, compared to 80% of their peers. That means 95% will be forced to live a lifetime on benefits and thousands of employers across the country are missing out on a pool of talented and highly driven employees.

At the same time, 86% of people with a learning disability who do not have a paid job want one.

DFN Project SEARCH is a national charity working to build a more inclusive society by helping create career opportunities for young adults with a learning disability and autism through business-led Supported Internship programmes.

Last year, it launched a #InclusionRevolution campaign to support 10,000 young adults into paid employment by 2030.

“With the Youth Advisory Group, we are always speaking to employers, educators, families and support service providers to give them a better understanding of young people’s needs, skills and adjustments,” said DFN Project SEARCH Youth Advisory and Co-production Assistant, Harry Georgiou.

“Our mantra is nothing about us without us because we know young people with lived experience must be the ones driving their progress to employment and independence.

“We envisaged the Conference as an extraordinary opportunity to meet hundreds of delegates from the inclusive employment community face-to-face, build bridges and plan for a more inclusive future. I am glad to report that it did not disappoint.”

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