Particularly over the last ten years, the gap between the percentage of disabled and non-disabled graduates entering full-time paid work on leaving higher education has decreased. However, the gap has not yet closed. In addition to this, we are all aware of the difficult job market we are currently experiencing, and how it is the case that many hardworking graduates are struggling to find work after university, in a seemingly increasing employer-centric market.
If a graduate is disabled, this does not mean they are unable to compete in the job market with their non-disabled peers. Disabled students and graduates should take up every opportunity and offer of help available to them. One of these help offers takes the form of a not-for-profit organisation EmployAbility, who support disabled students and graduates through the transition from education into employment, in a range of ways such as assisting with the application process, providing opportunities to attend recruitment fairs, and giving advice on adjustments that your workplace may need to make. EmployAbility facilitate and manage the selection and recruitment for disability inclusive employers such as universities, charities and national and international organisations, who are looking to attract and recruit disabled graduates onto internships, graduate programmes and other permanent roles. EmployAbility offer a free service, and I would therefore strongly encourage you to register with them if you are soon to graduate or have recently graduated and looking to enter the job market.
Sarah Denness speaks on behalf of EmployAbility, “We provide disabled students with the skills and confidence to make applications to the sort of employers they should be applying to, as with their non-disabled peers, and ensure that the whole process is a “level playing field”. We do this by providing personal advice and support, candidate skills workshops and campus visits at various universities amongst other things. The support we give doesn’t just stop when they are employed, we are committed to every candidate we work with and support them with their on-going career”.
It is also important to do your own research when job hunting, and you should be ready to apply for all opportunities that suit your interests and qualifications. You may also want to look out for employers who show a positive attitude to disability through:
A commitment in their recruitment literature and on their website.
The ‘two ticks’ symbol on their adverts - guaranteeing an interview to all applicants with disabilities who fulfill the minimum qualifications for the job.
Being members of the Employers' Forum on Disability, or advertising with disability organisations and websites.
Encouraging applicants to disclose a disability.
Offering their application forms in alternative formats.
When you are looking for a job it is crucial to produce an application of a very high standard. You need to show you have the attributes the employer is asking for and are enthusiastic to work for them. This is vital whether or not an employer appears to be positive about disability. Your university careers service is also available to you to offer advice with your job searches and career.
Good luck in your job search, and don’t forget to use what is available to you!