In a statement to the National Assembly, Mr Andrews said the Welsh Government would be offering an Employer Support Grant for up to four years to encourage and support employers to offer employment in Wales to eligible disabled Remploy workers.
The scheme will contribute to the costs of wages and also pay companies for all other reasonable costs that may arise from employing a disabled person, e.g. workplace modification. It will cover former disabled Remploy employees who lost their jobs in the wake of the UK Government-driven closures of Remploy factories in 2012.
And funding will be available to local authorities who can offer sheltered or suitable employment to ex-employees of Remploy for a minimum period of four years. The scheme is expected to cost up to £2.4m a year.
Last week, the UK Government confirmed it would be closing Remploy sites in Aberdare, Abertillery, Merthyr Tydfil, Swansea and Wrexham leading to the loss of at least 183 jobs.
Mr Andrews said:
“Last week’s decision to close the Remploy factories in Wales was a devastating blow to the workers and their communities.
“Since the UK Government announced their intentions we have suggested a number of alternatives to them, including devolving the Remploy budget and factories to the Welsh Government, but they refused to consider any of our proposals.
“This Welsh Government believes employment and dignity should not be a privilege. So we have acted swiftly to support the workers who face unemployment.
“We have been working with Local Authorities, social enterprises, supported businesses and private sector businesses to identify potential employment opportunities.
“We disagree profoundly with the one-size-fits-all approach to finding employment for disabled people. So while mainstream employment should be the aim for most, we believe there is a place for supported and sheltered employment, skills development and other public service provisions where appropriate.
“Therefore we have developed a scheme which offers a subsidy to businesses to take on Remploy workers who have been made redundant. But grants will also be available to local authorities who can offer alternative employment.”
Employers interested in offering alternative employment in Wales via the Employer Support Grant are encouraged to register their interest with the Welsh Government within eight weeks of the Remploy factory closures. Disabled Remploy workers who lost their jobs in 2012 can receive advice on accessing this support by contacting the Welsh Government, within eight weeks of factory closures.
Details of the scheme and how to register an interest can be found at: