Let’s give disabled young people the chance they deserve

Morag Houston
Morag Houston

#STUC16 Disabled young people are massively under-represented in apprenticeships and Congress delegates backed a wide-ranging campaign to address the difficulties they face,  to support their educational attainment and to make sure more can access apprenticeships.

Supporting the motion UNISON’s Morag Houston told delegates that times are hard for all our young people – but they are doubly hard for disabled young people.

“Young people who want to work are being denied the support that will get them into the workplace.  And young disabled workers struggle to get into the modern apprenticeship programme and then in many places, struggle to get kept on to its conclusion.

“Let’s not kid ourselves, people with disabilities are being set up to fail well before then,” she added pointing out that through years of cuts we’ve seen a huge reduction in classroom assistants and it’s the most vulnerable who have borne the brunt of the cuts.

“Who gets most support from classroom assistants?  Disabled children. Who suffers most when they are removed? Disabled children.”

She referred to John Swinney’s budget passed a couple of months ago with his claim that it would have “a minimal impact on jobs and services.”

“Well, waiting times for some forms of educational technology support are up to 6 months,” slammed Morag. “And I can assure Mr Swinney that for the disabled pupil who is losing their dedicated support – as is proposed in a number of local authorities – that impact won’t be minimal – it’s likely to be devastating.”

She warned that the problems stopping disabled children getting into the workplace won’t be solved simply by stopping the cuts to public services. “But they can’t be solved if the cuts continue.

“So we need the fine words we get from the Scottish Government to be followed up with action in schools that needs to be funded properly.

“The situation is so bad that we have a motion with six action points that will involve government, unions, third sector agencies and business. And this isn’t even what will be required to give young disabled workers equality.

“All this motion is asking us to do is support mechanisms that will only stretch as far as providing equality of opportunity.

“Disabled workers deserve a great deal more than that – but for today let’s set ourselves the goal of giving the most marginalised members of our class the chance they deserve.”

STUC Reports Home