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Supporting disabled students’ transitions from Higher Education into employment: What works?

In November 2014 the Equality Challenge Unit published a report on helping disabled students during that all important transition between H.E. and employment. The report ‘Supporting disabled students’ transitions from Higher Education into employment: What works?’ follows an investigation into the provision of support focused on disabled students across H.E. Institutions. This research was gathered from a range of sources including university careers services, disability organisations, and of course disabled students. The outcome is an interesting and valuable report which proactive careers services looking to improve their provision for disabled students could really extremely useful.

The report initially taps into what careers services should hopefully always aim to be well versed, in such as employers’ duty to make reasonable adjustments, or the availability of funding for workplace support, along with links to a range of useful resources. Building on this however it contains real value in sharing ideas and good practices that careers services across the UK have employed successfully. These could be used ideas and inspiration for all able services. For example, in the section on Providing accessible information, advice and guidance to disabled students and graduates there are descriptions of a great range of initiatives which include,

  • Brunel University – along with providing leaflets and documents on important issues for the students on the likes of disclosure, the Placement and Careers Service have written a ‘Good practice guide for employers on providing work placements to disabled students’. Useful to assist employers interested in their students becoming diversity focused.
  • Staffordshire University – the Careers Centre run a series of talks designed for disabled students which has been put together following consultation with the university’s Student Enabling Centre and the Disabled Students’ Engagement Group, who decided which talks would be of most use. A programme created in collaboration with those who will use it.

These, and many more noted initiatives can be very useful in arming students with information and opportunities to meet diversity positive employers, however the report has some information on other initiatives aimed at assisting with the transition into H.E. in the first place. E.g.

  • Manchester Met have developed a peer-mentoring service, where new students prior to starting their course are offered a peer mentor; a disabled student already attending the institution. This aims to reduce student drop for new students out during the transition into H.E., along with helping present students use and develop employability schemes through being a mentor.

There are of course limitations with this report’s ideas. What it does do is contain a lot of information, inspirational ideas and initiatives, which along with summarised overall recommendations could really make a difference to assisting the transition between H.E. and employment. What it does not take into account is that institutions and services are constrained with resources, funding, institutional politics which can really limit what they can realistically aspire to achieve.

Having said that the report gives some useful information and insight into existing good practice on within H.E. careers services and, for those services who are willing and able, can be used as a handbook of strategies and ideas to really add to provision for disabled students, and hopefully with their transition from H.E. to the workplace.

You can download this report at the following link.
http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/supporting-disabled-students-transitions-higher-education-employment/

Mark Allen, AGCAS Disability Task Group, Imperial College London

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