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Understanding the Impact of Disability on Ireland's Economy and Workforce

Illustration of a laptops with coins and a small human figure using a telescope. Understanding the Impact of Disabiliity on Ireland's Economy and Workforce. Logos for Employers for Change and Open Doors

As we navigate the complexities of our society, it's crucial to shed light on the current state of disability in Ireland and its profound effects on both the economy and the workforce. In the 2022 Census, 22% of the population (approximately 1,109,557 people) reported having a long-lasting condition or disability (DFI report 2024).

Despite strides in inclusivity, challenges persist for individuals with disabilities in accessing employment opportunities. According to recent statistics, the employment rate for people with disabilities in Ireland remains significantly lower than the national average. This disparity not only deprives countless talented individuals of fulfilling careers but also represents a missed opportunity for businesses to harness diverse talent pools.

The economic implications of this under utilisation are substantial. Beyond the individual level, the broader economy bears the brunt of lost productivity and unrealized potential. Studies consistently demonstrate that fostering inclusive workplaces not only enhances productivity but also drives innovation and boosts overall economic growth ("How Diversity Can Drive Innovation" by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall, and Laura Sherbin and Deloitte's annual Global Human Capital Trends Report explores emerging trends in the workplace 2020) to understand more.

Moreover, the financial burden of disability extends beyond the realm of employment. Individuals with disabilities often face higher healthcare costs and may require additional support services, placing strain on public resources and social welfare systems. According to a report published by the Department of Social Protection in 2021, the additional cost of living for a person with a disability is estimated to be between €8,700 - €12,300 per year from the research done by Indecon.

However, amid these challenges lies an opportunity for positive change. By prioritizing disability inclusion and implementing proactive measures to support individuals with disabilities in the workforce, Ireland can unlock immense economic potential and cultivate a more equitable society.

Businesses play a pivotal role in driving this change. Embracing diversity and providing reasonable accommodations not only benefits individuals with disabilities but also strengthens organisational resilience and fosters a culture of innovation. By tapping into diverse perspectives and talents, companies can enhance their competitiveness and drive sustainable growth.

Government initiatives and policies also play a crucial role in shaping the landscape of disability inclusion. By investing in education, vocational training, and support services, policymakers can empower individuals with disabilities to fully participate in the workforce, thus enriching the fabric of our society and economy.

In conclusion, the current state of disability in Ireland underscores the urgent need for collective action. By fostering inclusive workplaces, investing in supportive policies, and championing diversity, we can create a more equitable society where every individual has the opportunity to thrive. Together, let's build a future where disability is not a barrier but a catalyst for positive change. #DisabilityInclusion #InclusiveWorkforce #EconomicEmpowerment

For more information on how Employers for Change can assist you on your disability inclusion journey, please contact

Employers for Change is a program of the Open Doors Initiative, funded by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

The aim of Employers for Change is to provide an employer disability information service. The service empowers employers with all the information and advice needed to hire, employ, manage, and retain staff with disabilities.

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