94. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the third level apprenticeship, job opportunities, supports and interventions available for young adults with autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49860/18]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Finian McGrath): The National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017 – 2021, which is coordinated by the Department of Justice and Equality, is the key framework for policy and action to address the needs of people with disabilities.
Among the actions included in the Inclusion Strategy is the implementation of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities, which was launched in October 2015. The Strategy sets out a ten-year approach to ensuring that people with disabilities who are willing and able to work, are supported and enabled to do so. It is a cross-government approach that brings together actions by different departments and state agencies in a concerted effort to address the barriers and challenges that impact on employment of people with disabilities. In tandem with that, it seeks to ensure there will be joined-up services and supports at local level to support individuals on their journey into and in employment.
The Strategy's six strategic priorities are to:
- Build skills, capacity and independence;
- Provide bridges and supports into work;
- Make work pay;
- Promote job retention and re-entry to work;
- Provide coordinated and seamless support;
- Engage employers.
The Strategy is overseen by an implementation group (on which AsIAm, the charity and advocacy organisation for the autism community is represented), which was established under the independent chairmanship of Fergus Finlay. This group, which includes the National Disability Authority (NDA), members of the Disability Stakeholders Group and key government departments is tasked with monitoring the progress of the above six strategic priorities, ensuring that each Government Department is fulfilling its obligations and meeting its targets.
The Strategy contains commitments in relation to:
- An increase in the public service employment target on a phased basis from 3% to 6%.
- Special public service competitions for people with disabilities and the opening up of alternative recruitment channels for people with disabilities.
- The provision of an employer helpline to provide peer support to employers in relation to the employment of staff with disabilities, which was established in 2016.
- The Comprehensive Employment Strategy Annual Report for 2018 is currently being prepared and it will be available at justice.ie when it is published early in the new year.