Employers need to increase hiring and keeping staff with disabilities, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The OECD also said that Ireland needs to improve its "passive disability benefit system".

In a report - 'Disability, Work and Inclusion in Ireland: Engaging and Supporting Employers' - the international organisation warns that the impact of Covid-19 could see the labour market for people with disabilities deteriorating further, as happened following the global financial crisis.

It points out that in Ireland, only one out of three people with disabilities has a job, which is one of the lowest shares in Europe and the OECD area.

People with disabilities are half as likely to be in a job as those without disabilities and more than one out of ten Irish adults receive a disability payment, including many young people.

"This is one of the highest shares in OECD countries. Data indicate that many of them would like and be able to work if the right support measures were in place", the report states.

It says that engaging employers "is critically important" to build a better world of work for persons with disabilities.

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While it acknowledges that disability employment policy has improved in Ireland over the past decade, it says reforms have not produced the desired results.

"Overcoming misperceptions and discrimination as well as better awareness of available support and subsidies are key", it says, adding that Ireland still has an underdeveloped employer engagement structure.

The report also highlights the importance of widely accessible and well-funded services by both Intreo (the public employment service) and further education and training providers.

It notes that employers can capitalise on new opportunities for people with disabilities given the rise of teleworking and other assistive technologies.

The report makes several recommendations to get more people with disabilities into the labour market, including the expansion of Intreo's mainstream services for people with disabilities by proactively reaching out to Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension and Illness Benefits recipients to offer proven effective employment programmes.

It also says the Government could create a dedicated employer service within Intreo that employers know and can access easily at no cost.

Too few employers and persons with disabilities are aware of existing schemes that aim to stimulate employment of persons with disabilities according to the OECD, and it suggests the promotion of employment schemes like the Wage Subsidy Scheme.

It recommends immediate engagement with people when they enter disability benefits so there is early intervention into the labour market.

To keep people with disabilities in sustainable employment across all Irish regions, it says work accommodation should be widely available.

It also suggests introducing a statutory entitlement to working-time flexibility, working-hour reduction and working from home - building on the positive experiences during the pandemic.

Making further education and training more inclusive is also suggested and in its "ambition" to introduce statutory sick pay in 2022, the OECD says the Government should aim for an encompassing system that covers all health conditions and all types of employment.

Supports around employment and further education will be launched tomorrow for people with disabilities.

The initiative aims to support people with disabilities who wish to pursue employment, self-employment or further education.

The Coordinator of 'Towards Work' has acknowledged today's study published by the OECD which shows people with disabilities face a gap when it comes to education and employment opportunities.

Claire Hayes says 'Towards Work' will provide free practical training, resources, and bespoke mentorship opportunities.

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte, will launch the initiative.

It coincides with the beginning of a new Entrepreneurship and Self Employment course in TU Dublin which has been designed specifically for people with disabilities.