Scottish Government to offer internships

Disabled people are to be offered internships in the Scottish Government as it seeks to lead by example. The internship programme starts in September and forms part of 120 places offered in the public, voluntary and charity sectors. The Scottish disability employment rate at 40.9% compared with a non-disabled employment rate of 81.5%. The Scottish Government has a long-term aim of halving this gap and Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said the Scottish Government and public sector had to "lead by example" in helping support disabled people into work.

Inclusion Scotland has been given funding by the Scottish Government to create internship opportunities for disabled people in Scotland. These internships will give valuable paid work experience to help disabled people develop their careers. 20 internships will be offered by third sector employers in partnership between Inclusion Scotland and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. The other 10 will be hosted by public sector employers and supported by Inclusion Scotland.

Ms Freeman said: "Time and again I hear from disabled people across the country about how they want to contribute and play their part in society. Part of this is having meaningful employment. While businesses have a vital role to play in this, it is also up to the Scottish Government and the public sector to lead by example. That is why I'm pleased to be able to announce this package of measures that will help open up opportunities for disabled people - giving them the necessary skills and tools to allow them to have an equal chance of competing in the labour market. These are part of a wider package of measures contained in our delivery plan to strengthen the rights of disabled people in this country."

More than £600,000 will be invested over two years in supporting graduates in finding a job towards employment. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) will administer the programme of paid internships for both groups which will be in third sector organisations, supported by leading equality organisations.

Minister for Youth Employment Angela Constance said: “While Scottish graduates continue to punch above their weight in terms of achievement, we need to ensure that there are good levels of opportunities available to them to help address under-employment. We have already funded several schemes, including Adopt an Intern aimed at helping those having difficulty in getting a foot in the door. However, we also know that young people with a disability or long term health condition, and minority ethnic young people have particular barriers to accessing such opportunities."

The Government will also launch a new campaign next month to raise awareness among small and medium-sized businesses of the benefits of hiring more disabled people, and a major conference on disability, employment and the workplace is scheduled for December.