NHS Scotland learning disability employment: tools and guidance

Guidance and tools to support NHS Scotland to increase the number of the people employed with learning disabilities.

5. Advertising and Recruitment

To prepare your organisation and recruiters for hiring people with a learning disability, it is helpful to start thinking about the advertising and recruitment process early. Tapping into the local networks will help reach your target audience more easily.

Often people with a learning disability are hesitant in applying for roles. Pre-employment support will encourage applicants to apply for roles by increasing their confidence that the NHS is committed to employing people with learning disabilities. As a part of pre-employment support individuals and families should be given clear and accurate information about job conditions and requirements.

5.1 NHS Banding and Agenda for Change

As for all roles in NHSScotland, the job will have to match an NHS Band level as outlined by Agenda for Change. This band matching process occurs at the organisation where the job will be carried out. If you are considering carving a job, or altering the tasks in a job then you will have to match the job to a band.

5.2 Advertising

Advertising solely on NHS Jobs may not be enough to reach everyone who might be able to do the job. Building local networks will help you reach the largest possible pool of candidates. Some examples of alternative locations for advertising could include participating in jobs fairs or sharing the advert with local partners who work with people with learning disabilities (such as Supported Employment Organisations, the disability and employment advisor at your local Jobcentre Plus, SCVOs, and Adult Social Services departments).

5.3 Positive Action

The Equality Act 2010 allows you to take a protected characteristic into consideration when deciding who to recruit or promote.

As employers, you can take positive action pre-application to encourage applications from under-represented groups, such as targeted advertising, offering pre-application training, offering work shadowing, work trials or open days for specific groups.

At the point of making job offers, employers can also take positive action to select candidates from a protected characteristic. However, candidates have to be as qualified as each other; this does not mean the same qualifications, but it does mean that the selection assessment on a range of criteria can rate applicants as equally capable of doing the same job.

You might routinely consider a number of mechanisms outlined above as part of your standard recruitment process.

5.4 Accessible Applications

Applications need to be available in an accessible form. Key considerations are set out in relevant and existing PIN Policies and are included below:

  • easy read job descriptions and application forms – use clear simple language;
  • have clear descriptions of the job and tasks that need to be done;
  • do not ask for qualifications that are not directly related to the tasks of the job;
  • flexibility in how candidates apply – offer alternative application formats.

5.5 Selection Process

The design of the selection process will also need to be considered to ensure that you are giving applicants the best chance to show their skills for the job. This may mean moving away from a traditional interview-only format. Some examples of adjustments to the selection process are:

  • conduct the selection process through an assessment centre where candidates can trial aspects of the job;
  • have an informal atmosphere with a small panel;
  • allow for longer interviews;
  • consider giving the questions ahead of time;
  • keep questions to assess their ability to do the job at hand;
  • group exercises;
  • have someone with a learning disability on the interview panel.

5.5.1 Getting to the Interview

Provide clear instructions for how to get to the interview location in an easy read format and who to contact on arrival.

5.5.2 Feedback to Unsuccessful Candidates

It is good practice to give detailed feedback to unsuccessful candidates so they can improve. For many people with learning disabilities this may be their first job interview. To prevent them from being discouraged, positive and specific feedback on areas to improve is good practice. Additionally, managers can provide job trials or internships to help unsuccessful candidates build up their skill base.


Email: Emma Weedon

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