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Career Pathways Project: Supporting students and graduates in the transition to employment – guest post

Many thanks to Eileen Daly (Careers Adviser for Students with Disabilities) at the Careers Advisory Service, Trinity College, Dublin. Eileen has provided the guest post below, describing the success of The Career Pathways project partnership…

Career Pathways logo

Career Pathways

The Career Pathways project partnership provided a flexible and individually-tailored transition service for students with disabilities, accessible throughout college, to support them to prepare for transition to employment.

The project was developed by The Career Advisory Service and the Disability Service in Trinity College Dublin (funded Jan 2014 – 2016 by the Genio trust). Dublin Institute of Technology, University College Dublin, Dublin City University, and Marino Institute of Education were partners in the project. Find out more at http://www.tcd.ie/disability/career/Pathways/

Goals were set collaboratively with the student and a plan of action was agreed. A range of resources were available to students to support them to achieve their individual goals. These included: individual meetings with Occupational Therapists, Careers Advisers, Disability Officers and Assistive Technology Officers.

Students also attended monthly workshops facilitated by peer supporters and a variety of employer events as well as a three day annual boot camp. Career development resources were created via a specially designed e-portfolio system.

The process involved three stages:

  • Exploring your career
  • Building your career
  • Launching your career

Topics discussed in meetings and workshops included CV development, interview preparation, refining reasonable accommodations for the workplace, disclosure of disability at work and managing health and well-being in the workplace.

Project outcomes:

  • 126 students with disabilities used Career Pathways between January 2014 and December 2016.
  • Over 400 individual meetings took place between students and OTs / Careers Advisers.
  • 61 students accessed the ePortfolio system, developed within the project to allow students to log their work related experiences and engagement with resources.
  • 75 students attended monthly workshops and a three day careers boot camp (May 2015 & May 2016) delivered by the OTs, Careers Advisers, peers, ambassadors, and employers.
  • 14 student ambassadors have been recruited who will act as peer mentors to future students.
  • 26 Disability and Careers Service staff from four Dublin colleges have attended training workshops on supporting students with disabilities in their transition to employment.
  • 16 employers have connected with Career Pathways, with three large multi-national employers hosting events in their head offices.

 

An online resource, “Inclusive approaches to working with students with disabilities – the journey from study to employment” was developed and is available at: https://www.tcd.ie/disability/assets/pdf/Career%20Pathways%20publication.pdf

The project has concluded and we envisage the learning from the project will continue to be beneficial to students, graduates and careers and disability service professionals in the future.

Eileen Daly, Careers Adviser for Students with Disabilities, Careers Advisory Service, Trinity College Dublin, July 2016

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Every little helps?

Before you point it out I do know that it’s a different supermarket’s slogan but hey – it got your attention!

You probably spotted the following story back in April as it was quite widely reported in the press. An Asda superstore in Manchester was praised for introducing a ‘quiet hour’ in an attempt to make shopping easier for people with autism and other disabilities.

Asda living shop

As The Huffington Post reported, “The Asda Living store in Cheetham Hill will be completely silent for sixty minutes every Saturday. Escalators will be stopped and in-store music turned down during the hour, in which its boss says you will be “able to hear a pin drop”. Display TVs and tannoy announcements will also be switched off, to make the experience better for people with autism who can find loud noises difficult to deal with.”

Good news for some shoppers and undoubtedly good publicity for Asda, but this story also got me thinking about our careers fairs and other similar events. Continue reading

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I’m a blind Paralympian with a master’s, but getting a job was my biggest hurdle…

In case you missed it, I thought our readers might be interested in a recent Guardian article from Jessica Luke, a blind graduate and Paralympian, who believes that unfair application processes are still excluding her, and many other blind jobseekers, from graduate roles.

 Great Britain’s Jessica Luke (left) and Georgina Bullen (right) during the women’s goalball match against Denmark. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA

Great Britain’s Jessica Luke (left) and Georgina Bullen (right) during the women’s goalball match against Denmark. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA

Luke backs up her message with the depressing statistic that,
“Two-thirds of registered blind and partially sighted people of working age are not in paid employment.” (Douglas et al, Network 1000, 2006)

As usual the comments below are interesting too. Well worth a read I think.

Claire Byron, AGCAS Disability Task Group, Newcastle University

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Training Day – Friday 10th April

AGCAS Disability Task Group is running a training event at Liverpool Hope University on Friday 10th April which focuses on ‘Guiding Disabled Students through the Recruitment and Selection Process’.

Although originally offered through the NW Regional Training Programme, as there are still a few places available, this is now open to Careers Service staff from across the UK. Topics covered during the day will include researching how disability positive an employer is; disclosing a disability; positive self-marketing and reasonable adjustments at each stage of the application and selection process and in the workplace.

The day will include input from members of the task group, the HR Manager from Liverpool Hope University, the National Autistic Society and Remploy.

Bookings will close on Wednesday 1st April and to reserve a place please contact Clare Worrall-Hill worralc@hope.ac.uk

Hilary Whorrall, AGCAS DTG.

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To disclose or not to disclose…?

Positive About Disabled People logo

In terms of disability, a common question from students is ‘should I disclose’? The answer to this question is not straightforward as it might first appear – despite legislation requiring that (with a few exceptions) employers treat applicants and employees equally regardless of disability, gender, age, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Deciding whether to share a protected characteristic such as a disability with an employer (usually described as ‘disclosure’ in employment terms) is a personal choice – there is no one right answer for everyone. In particular if a disability will have no impact on their job, a candidate might prefer not to share this information.

However, if an applicant is asked directly during the application process whether they have a disability or health condition, and give false information, then they may be liable for dismissal should their employer find out later on. You may also wish to share information about a disability if it has health and safety implications for yourself or your colleagues.

An increasing number of employers are going beyond the requirements of the law and are actively promoting diversity in the workplace, with schemes like  ‘Two Ticks: Positive about Disabled People  and some employers apparently utilising strengths commonly associated with certain disabilities. It can be advantageous in some cases to share information about a disability with an employer.

Despite steps to overcome discrimination however, it does of course still exist, to the extent that in the recent past one organisation tasked with supporting disabled people into the workplace has allegedly been derogatory about clients and high profile companies have been sued by employees for operating discriminatory practices against them.

Even the word ‘disclosure’ itself is controversial, with some disability support services favouring the expression ‘sharing’ because of the negative and secretive connation attached to the expression ‘to disclose’. It’s important then that applicants are aware of their rights and what they can do if they feel they have been discriminated against.

What are the benefits of sharing information with an employer about a disability?

In theory at least there can be several benefits of sharing information about a disability with an employer:

  • The applicant is covered by the Equality Act 2010
  • The employer must make any reasonable adjustments requested at interview or in the workplace
  • The applicant can control how the employer finds out about their disability and their impression of it
  • The applicant may be eligible for help from the Access to Work scheme

When should I share information about a disability?

It’s up to the applicant when they want to share this information, but it makes sense to consider practical considerations, such as any reasonable adjustments that might be needed for the next stage of the application process (such as physical adaptions, an interpreter or extra time in psychometric tests).

Sharing information about a disability at an interview can sometimes take the employer by surprise and means that they are unlikely to be able to make reasonable adjustments for that interview if any are required, but again this is the applicant’s choice.

Often a good place for applicants to share this information can be in a covering letter or application form, as this gives an opportunity to explain any potential implications of a disability. It may also aid an application to highlight specialist skills and qualities acquired and developed as a result of a disability.

Where can I find further resources on sharing information about a disability?

The following resources discuss sharing information about a disability with an employer, and offer advice on when and how to do this, if the applicant so chooses:

Claire Byron, AGCAS Disability Task Group, Newcastle University Careers Service.

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Reasonable adjustments at interview

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Requesting that ‘reasonable adjustments’ are made for disabled applicants at interview ensures equality of opportunity. Clearly what is appropriate will vary in relation to the sort of post applied for and for each individual. When working with disabled students and graduates a good starting point is to explore the support given and coping strategies which they used to undertake their course at university and also whether there are aspects of the selection process which concern them.

It’s important that candidates’ check what format the interview will take. Will this be a one to one or a panel interview; will psychometric tests be involved; is there a group discussion or a presentation and are there any written tasks? Clearly in order for an employer to make the appropriate adjustments the applicant will need to have disclosed their disability.  There is however, no obligation for them to do this prior to the offer of an interview, unless they are applying to a √√ user and want to take advantage of the interview guarantee scheme.

Adjustments which a disabled candidate might commonly request in the selection process could include allowing extra time on psychometric tests or written exercises, or making materials used available in an appropriate format. It could also be appropriate to ask for short breaks between the various selection elements, especially for candidates whose disability affects the speed of information processing and in some cases, written not verbal instructions.  

Issues such as the layout of the interview room and access to specialist software may be important for a visually impaired candidate, whilst the support of an interpreter may be appropriate for an individual who has a hearing impaired. For those with Asperger Syndrome having clear and precise details of the interview arrangements in advance is important, as is ensuring that there are no unexpected changes to the  schedule. There might also be adjustments needed to the lighting, ventilation or temperature, as some disabled applicants are hypersensitive to sensory input.

Hilary Whorrall, AGCAS Disability Task Group, University of Sheffield Careers Service.

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Get that Job – The new AGCAS video for disabled students and graduates

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The Disability Task Group is pleased to announce the release of Get that Job, which is aimed at supporting students and graduates in their transition from university into employment.
The video looks at the following areas,

– identifying disability-friendly employers
– applying for work
– disclosing a disability
– adjustments in the workplace

Get that Job features opinion from disabled graduates who discuss their experiences of moving from university into their jobs.  They talk through their feelings and experiences of the recruitment process, the pros and cons of the notoriously grey area of disclosure, as well as their advice for present students.

To assist present students with finding the right employer and the transition into the workplace we also have the perspective of employers from different sectors, a specialist Disability Careers Adviser and a representative of the not-for-profit organisation EmployAbility.

Additionally we also look at adjustments in the workplace.  Although need in this area vary hugely depending on the individual, some of our graduates discuss those they have in place.  For adjustments where there may be a cost, there is also information and advice on obtaining funding.

Overall we feel this video is really able to assist the nearly 10% of graduates* who disclose a disability with their career journey after university.

The programme was made possible by generous support from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Shell International and Microlink PC. For further details take a look at,
http://www.agcas.org.uk/agcas_resources/671-Get-that-Job-streaming-licence-

(* AGCAS Disability Task Group report, 10 years on – 2013)

Mark Allen

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