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For Oral Answer on : 09/02/2023
Question Number(s): 84 Question Reference(s): 6172/23
Department: Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.


To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth the way he is supporting young adults with disabilities to access training and employment post-second level education; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


As Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, I am committed to removing the barriers faced by people with disabilities in accessing training and employment. My Department plays a significant coordination role in this regard through the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities (CES).

The CES is the primary disability employment policy initiative in Ireland. It is a cross-government approach, bringing together actions by Government Departments and Agencies to address the barriers and challenges to employment of persons with disabilities. The CES’s strategic priorities are to build skills, capacity and independence, to provide bridges and supports into work, to make work pay, to promote job retention and re-entry to work, to provide coordinated and seamless supports and to engage employers. Under the CES framework, my Department plays a coordination role in ensuring that disability measures are coherent and integrated, with specific actions continuing to be the responsibility of the relevant Departments and agencies.

In terms of specific employment supports provided by Government for people with disabilities, the Department of Social Protection, through its nationwide network of Intreo centres provides a case managed employment service for jobseekers with disabilities. This includes contracting for the provision of specialist employment services (EmployAbility services) to help address difficulties faced by some people with disabilities in securing and maintaining employment.

The Reasonable Accommodation Fund grants also support jobseekers, existing employees with disabilities, and private sector employers seeking to hire or retain a person with a disability. These grants are being reviewed, as per commitments under the Comprehensive Employment Strategy. The review aims to see how to improve the effectiveness of the grants, identify gaps in provision and how to improve the application and payment processes. In Budget 2023, an additional €1 million in funding was announced by the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys T.D., to expand the provisions made under the Reasonable Accommodation Fund and to support the recommendations from the forthcoming review.

With regard to access to post-second level education and training, last year, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris T.D., launched the new National Access Plan (NAP) to drive equity of access to higher education. The NAP names three specific priority groups, one of which is students with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities. This Plan will succeed the third National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher education 2015-2021, which expired in December 2021.

Other supports provided by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science include the Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD), which is the principal funding source for students with disabilities in further and higher education. In 2022, Minister Harris provided €3million of PATH 4 funding to higher education institutions to implement universal design and inclusive practices on their campuses, and enhance opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities in higher education.

Significant work is also ongoing in the areas of Further Education and Training (FET) and Apprenticeships to ensure they are accessible, inclusive and meet the needs of people with disabilities.

For further details on the supports referenced above, I would encourage the deputy to reach out to the Ministers for Social Protection and Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.