Dáil Éireann - Volume 524 - 12 October, 2000
Written Answers. - Employment of People with Disabilities.
Mr. Howlin Mr. Howlin
47. Mr. Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps she is taking to promote greater employment of people with disabilities in view of recent reports that as many as four out of every five such people are unemployed despite the significant overall decline in unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20182/00]
Ms Harney Ms Harney
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney): Responsibility for the employment and vocational training of people with disabilities transferred from the Department of Health and Children to my Department in June 2000.
In July, I launched a new supported employment programme for people with disabilities, with a budget of £4 million per annum from my Department. The supported employment programme has the potential to place up to 750  people with disabilities into open employment and is being administered by FÁS on behalf of my Department.
In July, I also announced the introduction of grants to companies for disability awareness training and for the retraining of workers who acquire a disability. Disability awareness training will help to integrate people with disabilities into the workplace by providing co-workers with a better understanding of the needs and capabilities of people with disabilities. Employee retraining grants will enable employers to retrain workers who acquire a disability for employment in the same company and in the same job, if appropriate. The operational details of these schemes are being finalised by FÁS and will be available shortly.
The Programme for Prosperity and Fairness recognises that the social partners have a role to play in promoting the employment of people with disabilities. I have invited the social partners to submit proposals which will promote the employment of people with disabilities and my Department will provide funding to suitable proposals.
In addition to the measures I have outlined, the Government has made a number of further commitments in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, which fall within the ambit of my Department, aimed at improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities. These include an increased emphasis on progression from vocational training programmes to employment opportunities in the open labour market; increased funding and promotion of the employment support scheme, which provides a wage subsidy to employers who recruit people with disabilities; increased funding for the workplace-equipment adaptation grant scheme which provides grants to employers for adaptations to the workplace to accommodate people with disabilities and strengthening the profile of the positive to disability scheme, which recognises companies which take a positive approach to the employment of people with disabilities.
Dáil Éireann 524 Written Answers. Employment of People with Disabilities.