THE stigma against people with disabilities in the workplace is an issue that EmployAbility Limerick has combatted for the last 16 years.
They are an organisation that supports people with disabilities, injuries and illnesses in their attempt to go back to work.
EmployAbility employment specialist Michelle O’Connor said that their role is to build confidence among clients who have suffered from an injury or combatted a disability.
“I definitely think it is difficult for the person because their self-esteem is reduced, their confidence is reduced, and that is why sometimes even having someone to talk to about their skill set and what a job requires is important,” Ms O’Connor said.
The stigma revolving around workers with either mental or physical disabilities are commonplace and EmployAbility aims to bridge the gap between potential employers and skilled workers with such disabilities.
“Sometimes the employer hears a diagnosis but does not know what it means. Because we work with our clients for a very, very long time we are really able to advocate the person rather than the diagnosis and have that conversation with the client’s consent,” Ms O’Connor said.
EmployAbility offers employers the chance to take potential employees on a short work experience programme, at the end of which they could choose to offer employment.
“Even if that person is still not ready for work, that is still a great experience for the client and their CV, and they have an up-to-date reference,” Mr O’Connor said.
She added that the organisation is about having an open conversation with the employers and making sure that the employers are comfortable asking questions about their potential employees.
Ms O’Connor also said that there is always the possibility of a shortfall in productivity from a worker because of their disability, but in that scenario, government incentives are available to the employers.
“I think we offer a lot to the employers and there is a high success rate in terms of the clients that are placed,” Ms O’Connor said.
EmployAbility is hosting an open-talk on Wednesday from 10 to 12 in the morning for members of the public and employers at their office on Mallow Street.
“I think there is a major shift in terms of the stigma but there is still a road to go and that is something that you constantly have to take into account,” Ms O’Connor added.