Accessing the Labour Market: Disability


Disability has a significant impact on an individual’s ability to engage with the labour market. Disabled people experience lower than average employment levels, at a Glasgow, Scotland and UK level.

Despite this, research demonstrates the positive effects of integrating disabled people in the workforce. This section will explore these issues in more depth, however, they should be viewed in conjunction with:

To provide further context to this priority, we would also recommend examining the data provided within:


Key Facts and Figures: Glasgow and Scotland

Glasgow reports slightly higher levels of disability than all major cities and the national average within Scotland:

  • Inverclyde – 23.7%
  • West Dumbartonshire – 23.1%
  • Glasgow – 22.7%
  • North Ayrshire – 22.6%
  • Aberdeen – 16.0%
  • Edinburgh – 16.1%
  • Scottish Average – 19.6%

    Source: National Records for Scotland. 2013. 2011 Census Results.

    In 2012, 45.6% of disabled people were in employment within Scotland, compared to 70.6% of non-disabled people.

    In Glasgow, the employment figure for disabled people drops to 33.5%, compared to 59.7% of non-disabled people.

    It should be noted that in 2013, the Glasgow employment rate for non-disabled people rose to 63.3%. There is currently no data available for disabled employment rates in 2013.

    Source: Annual Population Survey. 2013. Local Area Labour Market Statistics 2004-2013.

    Interestingly, self-employment rates are higher for disabled people (14.9%) than their non-disabled counterparts (11.1%).

    Source: Annual Population Survey. Oct 2012 to Sep 2013.


    Access to Apprenticeships and Education

    Despite accounting for 8% of 16-24 year olds targeted through the Scottish Governments modern apprentice scheme, only 0.5% of apprenticeships are filled by disabled people.

    Source: EHRC. 2014. Modern Apprenticeships. Equality and Economy: Spreading the Benefits.

    In the UK:

    • Disabled people are three times less likely to hold degree qualifications in comparison to non-disabled people.
    • 19.2% of working age disabled people do not have any formal qualifications. Compared to 6.5% of working age non-disabled people.
    • 14.9% of working age disabled people hold degree-level qualifications. Compared to 28.1% of working age non-disabled people.

    Considering the emphasis placed on education as the medium to the labour market, these statistics raise a number of concerns regarding equal access to employment for disabled people.

    Source: DWP. 2014. Disability Facts and Figures


    Workplace Experiences

    Research by Edinburgh University examined manager’s perceptions of supported employment. The qualitative study presented the following findings:

    • Supervisors and managers developed new skills to manage supported employees. These skills were then applied to the workforce as a whole.
    • Disabled employees provided a source of inspiration to colleagues and management.
    • Making changes to accommodate for disabled people may have a positive impact on the general working environment (flexible working, office arrangements).

    However, challenges did arise:

    • Managers experienced a steep learning curve, as they had to develop both an understanding of the individual’s disability and the impact it had on their day to day role.
    • In some cases, managing disabled people required the investment of additional one on one time.
    • Employees’ health may change throughout their employment, requiring management to adapt as and when required.

    Although this project focuses specifically upon “supported employment”, it provides a range of insights into disabled peoples positioning within the labour market.

    More specifically, it highlights the disproportionate numbers of disabled people within entry level jobs, citing a lack of clear career development pathways as a barrier to progression. Furthermore, it presents the need for a “person centred”, sensitive approach to workplace integration and career development.

    Source: The University of Edinburgh. 2013. Employers View of Supported Employment 

    The following table provides data regarding the number of people claiming health related benefits within the city.

      Disability Living Allowance Employment Support Allowance Incapacity/severe disability allowance
    Glasgow 56,750 44,440 7,210
    Scotland Total 345,990 227,330 42,820

    Source: Office for national statistics. 2014. Incapacity benefit/severe disablement allowance claimants at Nov 2013