Since leaving university in 2012 and 2018 with a BA in Politics and MA International Relations, as of 2021 I remain unemployed. This is despite applying for 2000 jobs and attending 200 interviews. Like 14.1 million other people in the UK, I am registered as having a disability and have found finding getting into paid work almost impossible. For those living with various disability, the process graduating university, is often more challenging, than their non-disabled peers. As they had to complete the same assignments whilst dealing with extra complications and burdens. But throughout school and university, many disabled people have received extra support in order to better manage these issues. Upon graduating this support is withdrawn and disabled people are left alone for the first time. As Young Powell (2019) supports “But rather than getting help to navigate these challenges, many disabled students experience a sudden drop-off in support during the time between graduating and entering the workplace.” When students graduate, they, may receive a normal careers interview, but no practical support and how to discuss, their disability or any reasonable adjustments. It is the first time no transition plan is place for that disabled person and many do not make the leap into employment and the effort, put in is wasted. As we hopefully leave the COVID-19 pandemic behind us and begin to rebuild the UK’s workforce, maybe it is to examine howe we can better support disabled graduates, getting into the work. Firstly, we need to ensure that a disability is not a barrier to getting a job. “A survey of 2,000 disabled people found that 51% of applications from disabled people result in an interview, compared with 69% for non-disabled applicants.” Independent (2017) We need ensure that as many people as possible can use their skills and demonstrate their full potential. How do we achieve this and is it possible? By engaging with disabled people earlier, whilst there still undertaking, their studies in entirely possible to ensure a smoother transition into the workplace and make the process less daunting and more achievable. Most Students undertake periods of work experience, either, whilst in year 10 or at college. Why cannot this also be offered to university students, during their studies. Many universities offer students, with disabilities some sort of academic support whilst at university. The idea would be, by working with the learning support services at the university. The student would contact an employer in their field of study and set up a meeting/interview at the university or at their home university. Following this a meeting/interview, would take place with the student, and their university support team to discuss how to ensure, the placement is a success. The work experience program would take place during, parts of the Easter and Summer Holidays and allow students, to be fully supported, by a PA from the university but gain valuable experience of a professional environment. For the employer, I believe that these work placements would be a useful opportunity to better understand both, the needs and skills of disabled people once they graduate. By giving them a PA during the process, ensures that people with more complex disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy or Autism, gain something out of it, but still have a safety net around them as well, which help build confidence. Post-graduation, there need more assistance to ensure that disabled graduates, have both the qualifications and enough experience to fill roles, for example project manager at a district council. At present, its risky for employers to offer such a job and justify a reasonable adjustment to a disabled candidate, when someone without a disability is also applying. A supported graduate scheme for disabled people, may offer a better transition from university into work. The aim of these schemes would allow disabled graduates time to reduce their support and gain vital experience, in their chosen field without the pressure of going for a job alone for the first time. The scheme would last 6-12 months and be in the Graduates chosen field. By the end, the of scheme a jobseeker would have built up enough experience to be successful in future job interviews. Businesses also have a responsibility, to normalise disability and reduce some of the barriers people face into getting into work. One good thing to come out of the lockdown, is its proven possible fore people to work effectively from home. This offers a unique opportunity for employers as it removes barriers of adapting workplaces for disabled people. So, in some cases, where a reasonable cannot be physically made a person cam connect into the office via zoom and be supported from home. In general, more support for disabled workers would make the office more accessible. Some examples of this could be a business hiring several PA’s, which disabled staff could utilise, for help with note taking at a meeting or on a phone call. Ensuring that better training is offered surrounding equipment such as Dragon dictate and reading equipment to assist a blind employee. Such equipment should be made more accessible to the workplace. Disabled people are just as capable and equally skilled as those without disabilities, however, often face insurmountable difficulties when entering the workplace. This change would have a positive impact on society as well. Firstly, it will unlock a vast bank of presentable untapped skills and afford dignity to thousands of disabled people. At present the government spend £10-£20,000 per disabled student for no reward the money is simply wasted, the talents and effort of the students are not utilised to their fullest. Finally, the change would have a impact on welfare spending, as although, in the short term, the government, may need to spend more, to support the graduate into work. Long term though it is a net gain, as this person will be a long-term contributor to the economy and therefore not seeking benefits such as Universal credit and ESA. So, it will cut costs. By £12000 a year.
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