Key findings from a report from Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre (UUEPC) reveal that Northern Ireland has the lowest employment rate for people with disabilities in the UK. In comparison to more than half of the UK as a whole, only slightly more than a third of the country’s disabled population is employed. Additionally, one in three young disabled people aged 16 to 24 were not enrolled in any type of training, work, or education (NEET). “A young disabled person is almost five times more likely to be NEET than a non-disabled person,” the report said. People with disabilities who were employed also frequently earned less money and had less stable jobs. The report came to the conclusion that neglecting the challenges that disabled persons encounter in finding employment is equivalent to undervaluing their contributions to society and the economy of Northern Ireland.

According to the UUEPC survey, only 36% of disabled individuals in Northern Ireland were employed. In Northern Ireland, 80% of those without disabilities are employed. Therefore, Northern Ireland has a “disability employment gap” of 44%, making it by far the biggest in the UK. The UUEPC investigation came to the additional conclusion that disabled individuals were affected “disproportionately” by the pandemic and its limitations. Wider support services for people with learning difficulties “disappeared or were markedly reduced” during the epidemic, based on prior Ulster University research. Additionally, it means that the likelihood of poverty for disabled people in Northern Ireland is rising.