· New ‘WorkAbility’ Programme aims to support 5,000 people with disabilities into education and employment

· Programme will support national, regional and local organisations that have experience of working with people with disabilities.

 

The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, has announced a call for applications for a new employment focussed programme for people with disabilities.

The programme, called “WorkAbility: Inclusive Pathways to Employment Programme” will run from 2024 to 2028 and has an overall budget of up to €36.29million.

The programme is aimed at supporting people with disabilities aged 16+ into the workforce.

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The WorkAbility programme will support national, regional and local organisations that have experience of working with people with disabilities and who can provide progressive pathways into education, training and employment (including self-employment) for participants based on their needs, their abilities and their potential.

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The programme also aims to build the capacity of employers to recruit, retain and progress people with disabilities within their workforce.

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Announcing details of the new Programme today, Minister Humphreys said:

We know that it is harder for people with disabilities to get into the workforce. Ireland has one of the lowest employment rates for people with disabilities in the EU.

At a time of full employment in this country, we must do more.

As Minister for Social Protection, I am determined to support people with disabilities in every way I can – whether it’s helping them up-skill or arming them with the supports necessary to achieve their ambition to set up their own business or social enterprise.

I am committed to putting in place an employment programme focussed on people with disabilities in 2024 and I am delighted to announce details of this programme today which will be co-financed by the European Social Fund Plus.

and she continued:

I am focussed on improving and extending supports to help more people with disabilities get into employment and stay in the workforce.

The WorkAbility Programme aims to bring people with disabilities closer to the world of work to help ensure that they realise their employment ambitions.

Pobal is managing the process on behalf of the Department and has developed a portal to facilitate the uploading of application forms for funding under this programme.

Applicants will be able to download the application form and guidelines from the Pobal website from today Thursday 10th August 2023.

The programme will close for applications on Thursday 7th September 2023.

Pobal will appraise the applications thereafter and successful applicants will be notified by the middle of November.

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Minister Humphreys added:

In the coming weeks, I intend to announce further initiatives to help support people with disabilities into the workforce.

This will include major reforms to the Reasonable Accommodation Fund and also the publication of draft proposals for the reform of disability payments in Ireland.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister for Disabilities, Anne Rabbitte said:

The average rate of employment for people with disabilities in Ireland is 32.5%, which is the worst in Europe, according to a report from the European Disability Forum.

Ireland has reached full employment, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office, and businesses regularly report the difficulties they experience attracting and retaining staff.

Employers need more support and education – when you are talking about disability, you are talking about a large market of untapped potential.

Public Jobs are involved in the Willing, Able Mentoring programme which was set up to help people with disabilities get meaningful work. I

It’s enjoyed great success with 80% of graduates secured employment as a direct result of their placement.

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The WorkAbility: Inclusive Pathways to Employment Programme aims to Support the Employment of People with Disabilities under the new European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) under the Employment, Inclusion, Skills and Training Programme 2021-2027 and the Government of Ireland, through the Department of Social Protection, and will be administered by Pobal.

The programme has an overall budget of up to €36.29 million and will run for 5 years from 2024 to 2028 building on the former Ability Programme – a three year programme which ran from 2018-2020 which was co-funded by the ESF under the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning Operational Programme and the programme will also build on learning from an employment measure focused specifically on people with disabilities, funded by the Department of Social Protection, utilising Dormant Accounts Funding programme which has been in place since September 2021.

Programme Objectives

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  • To improve the employment prospects of people with disabilities, including young people, who are currently distant from the labour market.
  • To build the capacity of employers to recruit, retain and progress people with disabilities within their workforce.
  • To facilitate new partnerships amongst stakeholders (people with disabilities, disability services, employment services and employers) and new approaches to providing employment supports to people with disabilities.

 

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