Skills and disabled people
65. One issue where we saw a lack of co-ordination
between the employment and skills strategies was in addressing
the number of disabled people without formal qualifications.
Speaking at the launch of a report by the Social Market Foundation,
'Disability, Skills and Work: Raising our ambitions' on 11 June
2007, the then Secretary of State, the Rt Hon John Hutton MP,
"Today there are 4.6 million people without
qualifications and a further 1.5 million with qualifications below
level 2. Disabled people account for a third of all those without
formal qualifications. They are twice as likely as non-disabled
people to have no qualifications; and twice as likely to be living
in poverty. And as incomes have risen across the working age population,
so the relative position of disabled people has struggled to keep
pace. While a quarter of all children living in poverty now have
long-term sick or disabled parents.
"While disabled people and those with long term
health conditions have lower employment rates than the non-disabled
population at all levels of qualifications - the magnitude of
that employment rate gap for those with no qualifications is almost
double that for those with level 2 qualifications.
"And with the demand for low skills likely to
continue falling - with Leitch predicting some 850,000 fewer low
skilled jobs by 2020 - the impetus for change could not be greater."
66. We were therefore surprised that the Government's
response to the Leitch review did not set out specific measures
to tackle this problem. When questioned on this point, the Secretary
of State replied "I am not sure why that is but it is clearly
an issue that I need to check out."
67. We ask the
Government to set out the specific measures it plans to introduce
to tackle the issue that disabled people account for a third of
all those without formal qualifications; and to explain why this
was not covered in its response to the Leitch review.