Calls for business leaders to “awaken Scotland’s forgotten workforce”
- Glasgow Kelvin College to host Scots business leaders to learn about training and hiring people with additional support needs
- Scottish Autism, Down’s Syndrome Scotland and Lemon Tree Hotels to share best practice at inaugural conference
- “Employing people with additional support needs shouldn’t be a CSR activity – it’s so much more than that”, says Glasgow Kelvin College’s Alastair McGhee
- 20% of Lemon Tree’s employees come from marginalised segments of Indian society, including people with intellectual or physical disabilities, widows ostracised by their communities, and survivors of acid attacks
BUSINESSES across Scotland have been challenged to change their approach to training and hiring people with conditions such as Down’s Syndrome and Autism.
Next week, Glasgow Kelvin College will host its inaugural “Fostering Inclusive Employment Opportunities” conference, where Scottish companies will discuss best practice with global leaders in training and employment of people with additional support needs: Indian hotel chain Lemon Tree Hotels and its training partner, Muskaan PAEPID.
Scottish Autism and Down’s Syndrome Scotland will also share their insight and experience with the more than 45 delegates already signed-up for the conference, including representatives from major employers in Glasgow from a range of sectors.
Funded by The Scottish Government, this conference and visit is the next phase of a long-standing partnership between Lemon Tree Hotels and Glasgow Kelvin College, which was initially funded as part of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI).
The partnership supports businesses in Scotland to learn how to break barriers to employment. Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray met employees at Lemon Tree Hotels in Delhi last year to discuss their pioneering approach to supporting people with additional support needs.
Alastair McGhee, Director of Business Development at Glasgow Kelvin College, said: “When it comes to closing the disability employment gap, our colleagues in India have much they can teach us. There’s so much our country can learn and they are showing us what’s possible.
“Employing people with additional support needs shouldn’t be a CSR activity – it’s so much more than that. They need to be included as part of the workforce, in supervisory, important, visible roles, not confined to the back office.
“By embracing new approaches to inclusive training and employment, businesses will not only change perceptions, but awaken Scotland’s forgotten workforce.
“We’re excited to welcome individuals, businesses, organisations and community groups who are committed to promoting diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, helping to make sure that everybody who wants to work can find fulfilling jobs.”
Among the keynote speakers will be Aradhana Lal, Senior Vice President for Sustainability and ESG, at Lemon Tree Hotels, and Neera Chawla, Director, Muskaan PAEPID will speak on this successful working model for sustainable employment.
Aradhana Lal commented “We have driven this inclusion initiative since 2007 and have built a successful, sustainable diversity model that fits in with the Lemon Tree business model. We are very happy to share our best practices with potential inclusive employers in Scotland at the conference in Glasgow next week.”
At present, more than 15% of Lemon Tree’s employees come from marginalised segments of Indian society, including people with intellectual or physical disabilities, widows ostracised by their communities, orphans and abandoned girls, and survivors of acid attacks.
These employees work across all departments – from Front Office and Food and Beverage to Engineering and Finance — of the chain’s 92 hotels in 58 cities.
Neera Chawla added: “Training in work-related vocational skills must culminate in employment opportunities, which are extremely meagre for adults with intellectual disabilities. We recognise the critical role that such opportunities can play in enhancing their quality of life. With endless efforts, Muskaan has been able to develop sustainable models of employment for adults with varied levels of Intellectual and developmental disabilities across various industries.”
The conference takes place next Monday (September 18) from 9.30am to 2pm at Glasgow Kelvin College’s Springburn Campus. Businesses can RSVP here.