Disability and employment

When young people with disabilities start work, training, or take part in work experience, their rights are protected
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A woman in a wheelchair sits at an office desk

Most young people with disabilities or learning difficulties move into paid employment when they finish their education. There is support available to help them achieve their ambitions.

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Special educational needs and disability: The local offer

This page is suitable for all readers, but also part of the Oxfordshire Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Local Offer which collects together information, services and support for children and young people in Oxfordshire with special educational needs and disabilities and their families.

People with disabilities and difficulties work and study alongside non-disabled colleagues. Sometimes they need adjustments to support them to study or work to their best ability.

Local learning providers are experienced in supporting people with all kinds of difficulties and disabilities. Employers are required by law to support staff and applicants with disability. 

Crucial: Older young people who need more support to get ready for work can access schemes like supported internships via their school, college, or Job Centre+. 

Why work?

Doing work is good for your health and happiness. It helps you to:

  • Keep up a healthy routine
  • Be more sociable
  • Feel helpful

Voluntary work and learning are also good for you. Your health, independence and future are improved by learning and doing regular useful work.

Crucial: Your rights are protected by law as a disabled student or employee. This includes being treated with respect and protected from discrimination. It also includes things like the right to extra help. You can talk about your disability with your employer or learning provider when applying to find out about extra support.

Get advice

If you have a difficulty or disability and you are looking for a job, talk to an advisor at your local job club or drop-in or at the Job Centre+.

If you are still at school or college there will be staff who can support you. They can help you decide what to say to a further education provider or employer, and make sure you know your legal rights.

Take action: Lots of young people worry about being ready to work after school or college. But support is available.  

Oxfordshire Employment Service

Oxfordshire Employment Service (OES) helps support people with long term health issues or a disability to find and keep paid employment.

They can help you develop your work skills, look for employment, get over problems along the way and get a job and keep it.

Take action: Find out more about Oxfordshire Employment Services. 

The law

By law, employers cannot discriminate against people with disabilities when recruiting for jobs. Employers have a legal obligation to make jobs available to people with disabilities.

Take action: Remploy can offer advice and support to help people with disabilities find work.

Making an application

Your disability should not be a deciding factor for a potential employer. But you should take care when getting your application ready:

  • Focus on what you bring to the job
  • Be clear about any support you may need
  • Avoid lengthy discussion - you can clarify your needs at your interview

It helps to be clear about any special requirements you have if you are invited for an interview. 

Crucial: People who have successfully applied for jobs report that it helps to be positive and make suggestions about any help they may need to do their job. 

Don't be discouraged 

Most young people apply to lots of jobs before they find the right one for them. For someone with a disability, getting the study or work environment that works best for you is really important.

It is fine to take some time and get it right.  

Crucial: If you are unsuccessful, it can help to phone the employer and ask for feedback on how the interview went to improve your next application. 

Access to Work - practical help at work

Access to Work gives you and your employer advice and support with extra costs which may arise because of your needs.

Crucial: You can check if you qualify for Access to Work on the GOV.UK website

Staying in work and learning

Working and learning new things is really good for you. It supports your health, encourages independence, and makes you feel positive and useful. 

My Experience: I found it helped to be open on my job applications

I work in outdoor education now, but whenever I've applied for a job I always make sure I declare my learning difficulty (I'm dyslexic) on my application form. It doesn't stop me getting shortlisted. If I say how I meet the job criteria on my application, I should always get an interview - whether or not I'm disabled. I don't go into how I manage being dyslexic on my application forms, but do talk about it at interview, where I'm positive about how it gives me an insight into the needs of the people I'm working with, how I manage it in day-to-day life, and what adjustments I'll need. I've just got a new job managing an outdoor centre, and I can't wait to get started.

Your local offer belongs to you!

The Local Offer explains support available to children and young people with special educational needs and disability, and to their families. We hope you found this page helpful. If you would like anything changed, updated or added, please use this online form.

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