Learning Disability Work Week


Research identifies that almost 20% of adults with a learning disability in the UK are in some form of paid employment whereas 65% would like to be. Having access to work experience is the first and most important step to finding a job.

Since 2013, Inclusive Employers and Mencap have worked together for Learning Disability Work Experience Week each year, connecting employers and candidates and creating positive and meaningful work placements for people with a learning disability.

This successful project has evolved into Learning Disability Work Week, which looks to provide people with learning disabilities the opportunity to gain a permanent role, as well as demonstrating the valuable contribution that they can make to the organisation.

Image: Includes the logos for Inclusive Employers and Mencap

What is a learning disability?

Video: Mencap asked people with a learning disability, parents and carers to describe what learning disability means to them.

Click here for more information from Mencap on how to communicate effectively with someone who has a learning difficulty.

You can also find more information about learning disability on Mencap’s website by clicking here.

What are the benefits of L.D.W.W for employers and candidates?

For people with a learning disability and employers, there is real value to work experience. Although many people with a learning disability want to work, very few actually find meaningful paid employment. The primary factors for this are lack of skills, lack of confidence and, most significantly, lack of opportunities. Mencap works hard to support people with learning disabilities with the first two barriers and work experience, internships, apprenticeships and jobs will help to address the third.

Many employers are anxious about employing people with a learning disability, as they don’t know what to expect or what they would need to do. Work experience not only provides someone with a learning disability an opportunity to get their first taste of a real work environment but also provides the employer with a taster of what it would be like to employ someone with a learning disability, seeing the benefits first hand.

Image: Rita on work experience at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

“We had a fantastic and mutually rewarding experience participating in work experience week for the first time last year. We were impressed by the people Mencap placed in our London office, and we understand they got a lot out of their time with us too. So when we had positions open up in our facilities team, as part of finding the best people for the job, it made perfect sense to include Mencap in helping to fill those vacancies. As a firm, we strongly believe that fostering a diverse and inclusive environment creates an open and more exciting place to work, and we have seen that employing people with learning disabilities is positive for productivity as well as morale. It’s undoubtedly a win-win proposition.”

Raj Panasar, Partner, Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton


The benefits for employers are:

  • 77% of the general public think more highly of companies that employ people with a disability. (Mencap Fact Sheet for Employers)
  • You gain first-hand knowledge of disabled customer base.
  • Your organisation is more reflective of society.
  • The disabled population have a spending power of £80bn (ONS) and are more likely to spend it with an organisation that employs disabled people.
  • There is evidence to suggest that people with Learning Disabilities stay in a role longer and take less time off, therefore decreasing sickness and recruitment costs.
  • Colleagues will become more aware of disability issues, and overcome any misconceptions or bias about the capabilities of a disabled person.
  • Many people with a learning disability are very enthusiastic about working, as they have often been searching for a job for a long time, this enthusiasm can be infectious and boost team moral.
  • Some people with a learning disability enjoy repetitive tasks which can offer the perfect recruitment solution for hard to fill roles.
  • The Social Market Foundation identified an economic benefit and estimated that with an increasing number of disabled people entering the workforce, it could potentially lead to a huge boost in the UK economy by at least 13 billion. (Social Market Foundation, 2007)

The benefits for candidates are:

  • Increase in confidence. For example James did an 8-week work placement with ENGIE and developed the confidence to apply for a 2-year apprenticeship.
  • Learn new skills. For example, James also learned "many new skills including pruning, leaf management, environmental cleansing and spill containment" in his job as a Grounds and Maintenance Assistant.
  • Meet new people and build new relationships. For example: Vicky Hiles got a job with Land Securities through her work placement and makes sure that when people leave Trinity: "we are friends on Facebook and arrange catch ups."
  • Be involved in something you haven’t tried before.
  • Feel fulfilled and be able to contribute to society through working.
  • Gain experience for your CV and job interviews.

Image: James on work experience at the House of Commons, looking confident and happy

Case studies

Read below and follow the links to find out how Learning Disability Work Week has benefited candidates and employers in the past:


Image: Vijay is pictured smiling while on his work placement with Vanquis Bank.

Vijay Patel has written a blog documenting his experience doing a work placement for Vanquis Bank on the Mencap website, to read it click here.


Participating in learning disability work experience week helped Vicky find a job and last year she won Land Securities' Community Employment Award 2016. Read about her experiences here.


In November 2015, the grounds and gardens team on the Pinderfields and Pontefract Hospitals contract, who were taking part in the National disability charity Mencaps “disability work experience week”, welcomed James to the team for an eight week work experience placement.

ENGIE worked closely with Mencap to find a client who would get the most out of the placement and James fitted the bill brilliantly with his keen interest in gardening and his enthusiasm for the Grounds and Maintenance Assistant placement.

He used the knowledge he had learnt whilst on work experience and volunteering to prove his ability to learn and work. James started a 2-year apprenticeship in April this year and he is progressing well.

Image: James doing the gardening at Pinderfields Hospital as the Grounds and Maintenance Assistant.

How do I get involved?

If you are a registered business, charity or organisation that have the capacity to support someone on work experience, an internship, an apprenticeship or in employment you can take part.

Find out more information and register your interest by emailing our team on info@inclusiveemployers.co.uk or giving us a call on 020 7803 0689.

If you are an adult who has a learning disability and would like to gain some work experience, find out more on the Mencap website by clicking here or call Mencap on 0808 808 1111.

Learning Disability Work Week will take place 6th-12th Nov 2017 - if you would like to talk to a member of our team and find out more, please contact info@inclusiveemployers.co.uk and follow our twitter account @IncEmp for more updates!

You can also find out more on the Mencap website here.

Find out more: Inclusive Employers’ Zeinab Ali discusses Learning Disability Work Week 2016

Hear more about her experiences in the video below:

Zeinab Ali interviews the director of Inclusive Employers, Richard McKenna, who talks about the history of Learning Disability Work Week and its positive outcomes.

Useful resources:

Learning Disability Fact Sheet - Zeinab explains what Learning Disabilities are and how Employers can make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities.

Inclusion Insights: Learning Disability Work Experience Week at Inclusive Employers - Zeinab talks about her experiences job-hunting in the Inclusive Employers newsletter.