Gaps in employment for people with disabilities – ESRI Report

This week an ESRI report commissioned by the National Disability Authority into employment for people with disabilities was released. The report highlighted several of the issues we see every day when it comes to access to jobs for people with disabilities.


According to the report, just 36% of people of working age with a disability in Ireland are in employment. This is the fourth-lowest rate among the 28 EU countries.

The ESRI categorised disabilities into groups. Of those groups, people with “difficulty with basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying” were the second-to-least likely to be in employment, at only 18.1%.

A Lack of Support Transitioning in Education

The report showed that there is a lack of support for people with disabilities when moving on from second-level education. It also highlighted the lack of career guidance available to students with disabilities.

The report says that “the severity of disability in Ireland is not strongly associated with working status”. This is unlike most of the other EU countries. It would indicate that the problem exists with support regardless of the type of disability a person might have.

According to the ESRI report, a person without a disability had an “at risk of poverty” (or AROP) rate of 11% in 2019, but this jumps to 23% for people with a disability. After the Great Recession (2007-2009), when many jobs were lost, the AROP rate for people without a disability recovered. But the rate for people with disabilities still hasn’t recovered to pre-2007 numbers.

The report ends by noting that more opportunities and supports need to be put in place for people with disabilities to gain and retain employment. “Otherwise,” it says, “the full return on such investments that have been made, and continue to be made, by the education sector will not be achieved, and this, ultimately, will be a cost borne by individuals with disabilities.”

If you need support with transitioning through education, or advice on the supports available to you, we can help. Our Education & Career Pathways services are here to help you get the most out of your education and career prospects. Whatever your stage in life, we want to support you to achieve your goals.

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