WorkFit is an innovative employment programme that connects employers and people with Down’s syndrome who want a job. Launched in 2011, WorkFit is unique in its ability to turn the ‘supported employment’ concept on its head by training employers about the condition-specific learning profile. Candidates who register with WorkFit (www.dsworkfit.org.uk) benefit from a supported recruitment and selection process, facilitating a smooth transition from further education into employment. WorkFit provides employers with bespoke support, training, work-ready candidates, knowledge of Down’s syndrome, skills and tools to support and encourage people with Down’s syndrome at work.
Many people with Down’s syndrome leave education with the skills and desire to work, yet struggle to access employment. In 2014-2015 the percentage of working-age adults with learning disabilities known to local authorities in paid/self-employment was just 6%, down from 6.8% the previous year (NASCIS). Yet at least 65% of people with a learning disability want to work (Mencap,2016). People with Down’s syndrome face an “invisible barrier” when looking for work factors contribution to this include employer attitudes, lack of support, lack of information and lack of clear pathways.
WorkFit in the South: Commenced June 2015, since which time 103 people with Down’s syndrome have registered. Of these, our WorkFit Employment Development Officer has so far been able to successfully place 43 people into employment. Currently we have 80 employers in the South registered and have trained 45 of those. Over the coming 3 years we are actively going to be promoting the service and training more employers to ensure that we are able to help every person looking for employment. Our employment Development Officer is based at our office in Newton Abbot, but covers the South of England.
To keep this service running in the South of England, will cost the Down's Syndrome Association £66,000 this year. We are hoping to crowdfund £20,000 of this amount. Without your support we will not be able to afford to keep running this programme in the south and southwest, we receive no statutory funding and rely on donations.
Please take a moment to watch the video of Tom who works for the National Laboratory in Starcross, Devon.