Young man with Down's syndrome is being shown how to use a till by a male colleague


People with a learning disability can make great employees! Evidence has shown that they are dedicated workers, having fewer sickness absences on average than other employees. Additionally, people with a learning disability generally stay in entry-level jobs longer, saving employers money on recruiting and training.

However, employment rates for people with a learning disability and/or autism have remained low for many years. Only 5.1% of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in England are in paid work (NHS Digital, 2021).

A recent Hilton study found nearly 9 in 10 adults with learning disabilities struggle to find employment.

Almost 80% said fear of being judged at interview put them off applying for a role altogether.

Additionally, a lack of confidence (51%) and feeling that prospective employers do not understand what an individual could do with the right support (32%) were key challenges facing those with learning disabilities when looking for a job.

Despite strong performance once employed and significant benefits for team morale and empathy, only 42% of employers are liked to consider hiring a person with a learning disability in the future.

Employers highlighted a perceived lack of understanding on how to make adjustments to support those with a learning disability (30%), not believing they have the right infrastructure in place (27%), and not having suitable roles (23%) as the main barriers to recruitment.

Despite the challenges employers face, the research demonstrated the significant value of employing those with learning disabilities. The vast majority (89%) of employers who had hired someone with a learning disability confirmed that they met or exceeded expectations.

The types of jobs that could most easily be made accessible to people with a learning disability include:

jobs that require practical skills that can be learned through practice and repetition

• jobs that do not require high level qualifications

• jobs that do not require a driving licence

• jobs that have fixed elements and only require a little multitasking

• jobs within teams where tasks can be shared and support can be offered.

For instance, roles such as, but not limited to:

• warehouse operative

• administrator

• retail

• customer service

• cleaning

• catering.

Sources of help

Graft Thames Valley

Graft Thames Valley is a small charity that aims to eradicate barriers to employment for disabled, neurodiverse or otherwise disadvantaged people struggling to find work.

They can help with CV writing, job searching, work experience placements, one to one support as well as work-related training courses. 

Our services are entirely free of charge and confidential. 

New provision to help disabled customers get into work 

Intensive Personalised Employment Support (IPES) aims to provide one-to-one support and training for those who are not in work, are disabled or have complex needs.

Open to both existing benefit and non-benefit customers, people interested in participating can discuss their circumstances with a jobcentre work coach.

The scheme provides:

  • intensive, flexible provider support for up to 21 months, including 6 months in-work support
  • warm handover from the jobcentre
  • a dedicated key worker
  • help to build a sustainable support network
  • an offer of work experience
  • regular progress reviews

How to apply

Ask your work coach if you’re eligible.

If you don’t have a work coach, go to your local Jobcentre Plus and ask to speak to a work coach about Intensive Personalised Employment Support.

Visit the site for more information about the scheme.


Access to Work Grant

An Access to Work grant can pay for practical support if you have a disability to help you:

  • start working
  • stay in work
  • move into self-employment or start a business.

Download an easy to read guide to the Access to Work

The grant is not for business start-up costs.

How much you get depends on your circumstances.

The money doesn’t have to be paid back and will not affect your other benefits.

To get an Access to Work grant you must:

  • have a disability, health condition or mental health condition that affects your ability to work
  • be 16 or over
  • live in England, Scotland or Wales – (there’s a different system in Northern Ireland)

Your work

One of the following must apply:

  • you have a paid job
  • you’re self-employed
  • you have a job interview
  • you’re about to start a job or work trial
  • you’re starting work experience

You can’t get a grant for voluntary work.

The employer has to be in England, Scotland or Wales.

Your disability or health condition must either:

  • affect your ability to do a job
  • mean you have to pay work-related costs, for example special computer equipment or travel costs because you can’t use public transport


You might not qualify if you get any of these benefits:

  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Income Support
  • National Insurance Credits.

How much you will get depends on your circumstances.

The money can pay for things like:

  • adaptations to the equipment you use
  • special equipment
  • fares to work if you can’t use public transport
  • a support worker or job coach to help you in your workplace
  • disability awareness training for your colleagues
  • a communicator at a job interview
  • the cost of moving your equipment if you change location or job

For further information and to apply, please visit