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The 6E Strategy at Ikkaido: Employment

Our mission at Ikkaido is to engage and empower persons who are disabled and disadvantaged to ensure their full inclusion in society. We use a 6E process that takes people on a journey to eudaimonia. Employment is the next step in the journey towards reaching this. Data from 2017 revealed that persons with disabilities are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to non-disabled people (Scope, "Disability Facts and Figures"). It is essential to address this inequality for the well-being and equality of persons with disabilities. Ikkaido have created a number of initiatives and programmes that both offer employment opportunities to people in our community and develop skills to increase employability for persons with disabilities or disadvantaged people. Ikkaido are very proud to employ a workforce that consists of disabled and disadvantaged people and have a fully inclusive approach to our work.

4. Employment

EmployABLE Participant: "EmployABLE gave me a new vision for myself. I never thought I could work with other people until I got the opportunity to during this programme. Now I know I can do it; I feel more confident contributing to a project and sharing my skills."

The Need for Change: Persons with Disabilities and Employment

Persons with disabilities are often discriminated against by employers, creating barriers to their employment. Research from health and welfare charity, Leonard Cheshire, shows that "1 in 5 employers say they would be less likely to employ a disabled person" (2017). The Centre for Social Justice found that perceived barriers for employers to employing disabled people were: • The ability to do their jobs (34%) • The cost of making reasonable adjustments (31%) • The inconvenience of making reasonable adjustments (19%).

Addressing the environmental barriers and forms of discrimination that contribute to the 31.3% employment gap would have clear social and economic benefits, as approximately 15% of the global population are disabled, offering huge scope for profitability and development that is not currently tapped in to (Bond, VfM Report, 2021). The economic benefits of employing persons with a disability are plentiful. For businesses, there is a statistically significant relationship between diversity at the workplace and innovation outcomes, according to The Harvard Business Review. Businesses that invest in inclusivity are shown to be more prosperous long-term. Oxfam's The Future of Business Report reveals that there is more commercial success for businesses that increase their inclusivity due to increased productivity, improved quality, differentiation opportunities, and market expansion, resulting in long-term economic value. In the UK, it is also in the government's interest to increase disabled employment. For example,

  • A report by Scope found that a 10% rise in the disability employment rate, the equivalent of supporting one million disabled people into work, would increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by £45 billion by 2030.

  • The cost of poor mental health to the economy as a whole is £74-£99 billion a year. This includes costs in providing benefits, falls in tax revenue, costs to the NHS and lost output (DWP, 2017).

  • Ill-health amongst working age people costs the economy £100 billion and sickness absence and is estimated to cost employers £9 billion per year (DWP, 2016).

Employment is crucial to anyone's well-being, but evidence reveals this is particularly true for persons with disabilities. Reports have shown that being in employment is essential to the prevention of further physical and mental illness. The Department of Pensions and Work found that "over half of disabled people who are out of work experience mental health and/or musculoskeletal conditions (54%) (2016)," consequently decreasing their chances of entering the workforce again. This has hugely detrimental impacts on disabled people's health. Research has shown that early intervention is key to preventing people from falling out of work (Rethinking disability at work, 2017). Therefore, it is particularly important to implement holistic initiatives and structures that support disabled people at work and nurture their employability.

At Ikkaido, we work to improve persons with disabilities well-being and support them on their journey to reaching eudaimonia and flourish in society. In light of this, we have created both employment opportunities for our community at Ikkaido directly, as well as designing and delivering programmes that have the specific goal of developing skills that will increase employability prospects. All of our programmes are accessible and inclusive to everybody, and are all created, managed and delivered by persons who are disabled and/or disadvantaged. Moreover, 100% of our staff are disabled and/or disadvantaged and/or have fewer opportunities, as we strive to tackle the employment inequality relating to persons with disabilities.


Employment Opportunities at Ikkaido:


Ikkaido is partnered with Oxford Applied Training, University of Oxford and Open University to offer apprenticeships for young people. We can accommodate apprenticeships in many different fields of work, such as business, sport and charity (including Digital Marketing and Operational Management).

Apprentices are aged 16 or over and combine working with studying to gain skills and knowledge in a specific job. We pay our apprentices at least the minimum wage.

Our apprentices:

  • Work with experienced staff

  • Learn job-specific skills

  • Get at least 20% of their normal working hours for training or study during their working week

Matthew joined Ikkaido in October 2020 on an apprenticeship and is the head of 3D Design and Resources. He is currently doing a Level 3 apprenticeship in team leadership and management.

Photographed: Matthew, apprentice and head of 3D Design and Resources at Ikkaido.

Matthew said of his experience as an apprentice at Ikkaido:

"My apprenticeship at Ikkaido has given me the opportunity to further develop my specialised skills as well as offering experience in team leadership and management. I would definitely recommend it."

You can watch Matthew talk more about his experience of being an apprentice at Ikkaido here.


Ikkaido is an approved Kickstart Employer. Kickstart schemes give young people the chance to build their confidence and skills in the workplace, and to gain experience that will improve their chances of going on to find long-term, sustainable work. If you are interested in applying for a Kickstart scheme, then find out more here to see whether you are eligible to apply.

Read below to find out about Aiesha's experience of working with Ikkaido through the Kickstart scheme.

One of Ikkaido's Newest Employees: Aiesha

Photographed: Aiesha, Marketing and Graphic Design Officer at Ikkaido.

Aiesha is employed by Ikkaido directly. She is one of our newest employees, having joined our team in 2021 through the Kickstart scheme. Aiesha says of her experience:

"Working at Ikkaido has been so uplifting. Meeting new people and being able to take part in some of the martial art classes has been incredibly enriching for me and my overall well-being. I'm so much happier now! I'm supported in ways that are best suited to me and my specific needs at work - something I have never had before. At Ikkaido, I can ask for help without worrying about judgement and stigma, which is a huge relief for me."

You can watch Aiesha talk more about her experience of working at Ikkaido here.

Programmes that Increase Employability

Employable skills are embedded in all of the programmes we deliver at Ikkaido. We know how fundamental it is to develop abilities such as soft-skills, skills in leadership, ITC knowledge, communication skills and so on, to increase someone's chances of employment. Projects that develop and nurture participants' employable skillset are illustrated below.


EmployABLE was created with the specific purpose of increasing young disadvantaged and disabled people's employability and well-being. EmployABLE is a European collaboration bringing together 51 disabled and non-disabled young people from 5 different countries.

There is a vast amount of evidence indicating that psychosocial well-being is critical to the development of individuals competences in employment.

EmployABLE uses the iconic nature of martial arts to provide psychosocial well-being through regular sessions of physical activity to engage and empower people with disabilities.

Employable skills that are taught:

  • Social Media skills (i.e., how to make Word Clouds)

  • Team building (i.e., delegation)

  • Communication skills (i.e., active listening)

  • Aspirations and goal setting (i.e., the use of SMART goals)

  • Marketing (i.e. promotion techniques)

  • Verbal communication skills (i.e., practicing presenting)

  • ITC skills (i.e., using PowerPoint)

  • Campaigning skills (i.e., brainstorming ways to raise money)

Over the two-year life of the project, our partners learnt all of the skills and competences to create a Festival of Martial Arts for people with disabilities, run by disabled people.

Young disabled participants learn how to identify and be aware of their value and skills to develop as employABLE people. The competences taught in the project change perceptions and self-perceptions of the capabilities of disabled people.

EmployABLE festival planning in Sardinia, 2018.

Financial Lit 4 Women

Financial Lit 4 Women is an Erasmus project aiming to create an inclusive Training Toolkit of Financial Literacy through Game-Based Learning for women who are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET), including those with a disability.

Partners of the project organise non-formal and informal learning, teaching, and training activities that increase participants understanding of how money is made, spent, and saved. The main skills that are taught relating to employability pertain to financial resource management and decision-making skills.

The target group of the project are disabled and/or disadvantaged, unemployed and less educated women, belonging to the NEET category.

Get On It

Ikkaido IMA are working with our In Touch partners to deliver "Get On It", a project designed to tackle the number of NEET young people with disabilities. Specifically, Get On It aims to:

  • Equip young people with disabilities with new IT skills or enhance their existing skills in this field.

  • Foster or to ‘awaken’ participants entrepreneurial skills and provide support for entering the Entrepreneurial sector.

  • Instil a growth mindset in young disabled people through non-formal learning in ICT and entrepreneurship.

  • Improve the quality of youth work in facilitating inclusive and accessible education in entrepreneurship and ICT.

We also want to build awareness that disabled people should have the same value, rights and voices in our society. We aim to change perceptions surrounding disabled people and employment and nurture a spirit of aspiration for persons with disabilities in relation to their careers and work.


Bullying Education Awareness and Tactics for Inclusion and Tolerance (BEAT-IT!) gives priority to people who have a lived experience of bullying, intolerance and prejudice. The project works on building self-esteem and teaching participants tools for protecting their safety. One of the many benefits of this is that they will feel more confident and comfortable in the workplace. The project addresses issues such as e-safety, the lack of digital literacy and the appropriate use of social media amongst young people.

BEAT-IT! develops the following skills that increase employability prospects:

  • Critical thinking skills

  • Communication skills

  • Competences in creativity in digital media

  • Collaboration using digital tools


Eva-Fem is a female empowerment project that teaches employable skills through non-formal and informal methods. Workshops revolve around the topics of inclusion, mobility, technology, communication, IT tools, social media, leadership, coaching and empowerment. The aim is to uplift and empower women - particularly disabled and disadvantaged women - by increasing their employment prospects and elevating them in society.


M's Story:

Pictured: M pictured in 2018 after winning UK Disability Coach of the Year.

We have been following M's story in previous blog posts. M is one of the people who we have worked with over the years, helping to develop her skills and improve her well-being. Since her childhood, M had dreamt of becoming a P.E teacher. However, the physical injuries that M had suffered after years of abuse and consequent self-harm meant that she was no longer able to participate in sport at school. Her declining self-esteem and hope of a future doing the job that she had dreamt of caused her self-harm to worsen. M's mental and physical disabilities created barriers to employment, and she found that her employment opportunities had dwindled. M felt so hopeless about her future prospects that she said, "I had a massive mental breakdown and attempted to take my life." It was only after her diagnosis of borderline personality disorder that she decided to contact Ikkaido for help and support.

"I had a massive mental breakdown and attempted to take my life."

Ikkaido engaged M in Inclusive Martial Arts (IMA). Her confidence began to grow, and her well-being improved drastically. M found that she was able to participate in physical activity - despite her injuries - and rediscovered her love for sport. M's participation in IMA developed her soft skills as well as her physical and emotional strength. After just 6 months, M took her Activator qualification and began helping out with some of the IMA sessions. Her love for coaching was reignited and she found that she was capable of doing the job she had always wanted to do. M said, "I began to look forward, rather than look at my past; I began to see I had a future and something that I was good at." With the help of Ikkaido, M was able to do more coaching qualifications, taking her Level 2 Coaching Qualification, and continued to follow her dream of becoming a PE teacher.

"I began to look forward, rather than look at my past; I began to see I had a future and something that I was good at."

After two years of education, training and self-development with Ikkaido, M realised her childhood dream and became a PE teacher at a Primary School. Not only was M able to overcome initial barriers and secure her dream job, but her work has been widely recognised. In 2018, M won UK Disability Coach of the Year. The following year, she was invited to Buckingham Palace to recognise and celebrate the work she has done both within and outside of her employment. M is testament to the fact that being disabled or disadvantaged by societies standards should not act as a barrier to one's employment.


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