Minister champions work for all who are Able

Date published: 08 December 2016

People with disabilities have the right to participate in the workforce, and government and employers have a duty to support them in that goal.

That was the message from Communities Minister Paul Givan today as he announced new contracts with lead providers of the Executive’s flagship ‘Workable (NI)’ disability employment programme.

Workable (NI) supports people with a range of disabilities to secure and retain paid jobs across every employment sector throughout Northern Ireland. The programme is currently supporting almost 700 employees.

Speaking at a launch event of the new phase of Workable NI, Minister Givan said: “Disabled people are often faced with numerous and complex barriers to finding and retaining paid employment. Workable NI provides its participants with tailored support for their individual needs to help them move into and sustain suitable employment. Employers who have been involved in the programme have found that participants of Workable NI have the ability, motivation and determination to enhance any workforce. Their appreciation is evidence of how the Workable NI programme is not only successful for the individual participant but can also create a more diverse, inclusive and richer working environment.”

While the Workable (NI) programme has been running for the past 10 years, new contracts have been awarded to three lead providers to deliver the programme over the next five years.The three lead providers are: Disability Action; Ulster Supported Employment and Learning (Usel); and Supported Employment Solutions, a consortium of seven local disability organisations.

The Minister continued: “This new phase of the Workable NI Programme has increased flexibilities regarding hours of employment and levels of support on offer. Ensuring disabled people are afforded their right to work is a priority. I wish Disability Action, Supported Employment Solutions and Ulster Supported Employment and Learning, continued success with the programme and reaffirm our commitment to working in partnership to ensure the programme grows from strength to strength.”

The lead providers will provide teams of dedicated and specialist employment officers, who will work with individuals who are seeking employment or those who are in work, but experiencing real difficulties due to their disability. They also offer tailored support to the host employer, including disability training for staff, mentoring support and input into the employee’s performance review process.

One of the participants of Workable NI, Gillian Fowler said: “I have benefited greatly from a range of support mechanisms including intervention around reasonable adjustments, encouragement and workplace training for colleagues and ensuring job security through a change in employer. I do not feel I would have secured this or been so successful in my current employment without Workable and Disability Action's support.” Gillian is working as a Customer Assistant for Marks and Spencer.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The £16million scheme will run to 30 June 2021.
  2. Currently, 692 clients are being supported in employment through the Workable (NI) programme. 43% of participants have a learning disability, 23% have a mental health disability and 9% have physical disability.
  3. Follow us on Twitter @CommunitiesNI
  4. For media enquiries please contact the Department for Communities Press Office on 028 9082 3502 or email: For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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