Research Profile

Sunday, 2 June 2013

When it comes to employment we must not ignore those with disabilities

The widely reported move by SAP to target programmers affected with autism spectrum disorder because of their specific skills and to encourage innovation provides a timely reminder of the importance of diversity for the UK's enterprise culture.

The UK has impressive strengths in science, technology and innovation, most notably in recent times through the emergence of London's Tech City cluster.

Perhaps - rather than focusing on trying to reduce the cost to the taxpayer of supporting those with disability - the government could work with businesses and social enterprises to identify those who might have especially valuable skills developed as a consequence of their disability. 

Not only would this ensure that UK's business are as competitive as possible, but it would also send an important message of encouragement to those in our society who are particularly disadvantaged and for whom there appears little scope for optimism at a time of prolonged economic difficulties.

A proactive approach by government to stimulate support for employment and entrepreneurialism for those with disabilities, through collaboration with business and communities, could be a game-changer in terms of working collectively for economic and social benefit for the UK. 

We could even give it a name: how about the Big Society?

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