Big Society, Disability and Civil Society Research

Website for ESRC research project 'Big Society? Disabled People with Learning Disabilities and Civil Society'

23rd September, 2015: The power of employers

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The power of employers. – 23 Sep 2015

Keith Bates

We talk often about knowing what works in getting people into employment; all that research and evidence; all that practice. Yet where do employers fit? Should they not be doing some of this stuff for us – or at least with us?

We know in the UK the growth of Project Search and Supported Internships offer an insight to what happens when we get the (properly supported) skills and talents on display for recruiting managers that employment rates for people with learning disabilities and autism start to increase significantly.image-2 image-3

We were therefore delighted to be invited once again to talk to Gamuda – one of Malaysia’s largest engineering, property and infrastructure companies about supporting people with autism in the workplace. The welcome we received was truly exceptional.

Gamuda, a company with over 3500 employees working in a fabulously wide variety of sectors has decided it wants to create opportunities. This is a message directed from the very top and already involves support for a number of disabled people with high ambitions to increase this.

After a brief introduction and exploring what Autism is and how it may impact on work life, Keith and Molly from the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, members of our research team in Malaysia, shared stories of how people have been supported to become valuable and respected employees in a variety of settings. This attempted to show how small changes have made a big difference to their success at work and in some cases have improved the working environment for everyone.

The team was deeply impressed with the fact that the presentation was attended by over 100 people from the organisation. Not only did serve to illustrate the importance to this initiative is to the company but, indeed the level of commitment by the staff team.

Further cases studies offered an opportunity for the participants, which included both chairman and the Chief Executive – another show of commitment – to consider possible responses to real life scenarios.

The session finished with a short conversation about some of the thing the organisation would use to move forward. The team were delighted to hear that Dato’Lin Yun Ling, Group Managing Director found the workshop had helped significantly and that he was already thinking of adjustments to their programme such as the possible introduction of support circles for employees.

This is just a great example of how employers can and do make a difference when we get the right support, the right approach and the right attitude. As with our internships, Business led partnerships can have real impact

We look forward to further developments.



Author: Katherine RC

Katherine is Research Fellow in Disability Studies and Psychology at the Research Institute for Health and Social Change at Manchester Metropolitan University

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