A new project aimed at boosting the employability of young people with disabilities in Fife has been launched in Kirkcaldy.
The scheme, which will start later this year, will support young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism, with the aim of building their confidence and empowering them to make positive changes in their local community.
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Led by the Co-operative College and delivered in partnership with charity ENABLE Scotland, the project will be based at ENABLE Scotland’s Fife office in John Smith Business Park, and will take positive steps towards ensuring that all the young people taking part are given the opportunity to reach their full potential.
The Co-operative (Ad)venture scheme, funded by the PL Trust, will provide all participants with employability skills and valuable work experience.
The project aims to break down a number of barriers to employment for people with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism. These barriers include:
A lack of understanding from employers and individuals themselves as to what people with a learning disability can do with the right support; a lack of good quality support to get and maintain employment and the attitudes of employers.
Across Scotland, it is estimated that the employment rate for adults with a learning disability is 5.3 per cent, which is well below the overall national employment rate of around 75 per cent.
According to the Scottish Government, disabled people experience lower rates of employment and lower pay than non-disabled people.
A spokesperson at PLTrust said: “The Trust is delighted to be able to support the Co-operative (Ad)venture project.
“It is an innovative and valuable project that will enhance all of the lives of the young people involved and enable them to develop skills that wouldn’t otherwise be available.”
Simon Parkinson, chief executive and principal of the Co-operative College, said: “This adds another project to our growing portfolio of work to empower young people and inspire the next generation of co-operators.
“For too long, those with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism have been overlooked by employers.”
Jamie Rutherford, director of employment at ENABLE Works said: “We know that very few people with a learning disability in Scotland are in employment.
“We also know that young people with additional support needs leaving school are twice as likely to be unemployed and low skilled.
“Therefore this project will offer a unique opportunity for young people with learning disabilities to engage with local co-operatives and the communities they live in to improve their skills and their chances of gaining employment.”
The young people taking part will set up their own ‘co-operative’ to take action to tackle problems they collectively identify in their local community.
Through this activity, all those involved will gain confidence and skills to take into their working life.