September 2008

If you’re just finished college chances are you’ve been to or are going to a graduate fair at some point. These events are prime opportunities to talk to employers in an informal setting and to get more information about them and their company. October is usually the month for these fairs, and already my calender is threatening to clog up with them. Unfortunately I can’t be at all of them and so far I’ve only committed to 2 of the ones I’ve been invited to. The Graduate Careers Fair in the RDS on the 14th October and the UCD Careers fair on the 9th. The Graduate Careers Fair requires registration and you can do this in advance on their website. have a great list of all the careers fairs taking place nationally and I would strongly reccommend checking out one near you – even if graduation wasn’t in your recent past. Next week, I’ll have a list of ways to make the best of a careers fair.

Following on from my last post, I’d like to talk a little bit about some of the other barriers to employment for graduates with disabilities. While access (and by this I mean physical infrastructure) is probably the biggest barrier, its also the hardest to tackle. It’s not complication that makes it hard to tackle, but simply the scale of the task. It is pervasive. And talking about access will probably make up several posts all on its own – in a constructive manner I hope (no pun intended!)

But what of the other barriers? Another project of AHEAD (the WAM Project) has done a lot of work with employers and graduates trying to identify where some of the barriers lie. And unfortunately, it’s not one giant wall in the way, but rather an obstacle course or minefield of smaller issues. The report from the last round of that project can be found here. Barriers identified included perceptions, recruitment & selection processes, support mechanisms (or lack of), welfare rights, disclosure, accomodations, and grants. I plan to look at each of these over the forthcoming months, but in the meantime I’d like to know if anyone thinks I’ve missed any in my list?

Enable Ireland have just published the results of a survey “Access All Areas” as part of their Action Week and I’ve just taken a quick read of it, and some of the media reports on it. You can find the survey here, but I’m just pulling out the things that struck me on reading it.

“Infrastructure was viewed as the biggest barrier to access in the daily lives of people living with a disability in Ireland who partook in our Access All Areas survey. The biggest proportion (28%) of contributors voted this their biggest access barrier out of the five options. This was followed…by employment (21%)”

Surely if infrastructure is a problem then getting to anything is going to be difficult – if you can’t get around without difficulty then that’s a barrier to employment before you even get to the interview. This survey corroborates what we knew from our experience & research, reinforces the anecdotal evidence, and each survey, each piece of research backs up the other which is both useful and frustrating. But it comes up time and time again – access (or rather lack of it) is a huge barrier to employment. Policy makers need to take a long hard look at these facts – because as long as basics like transport and access to shops & buildings are challenging for some disabled people, as long as “it’s easier to stay at home” for some people, then figures like these are going to remain the same:

“Adults with a disability had struggled with employment; with over two thirds (70%) saying they had not found the process very accessible. While just under a quarter (23%) had found it quite accessible, only seven percent had found it highly accessible.”

And I don’t think that’s good enough.

Thursday was our second annual GET AHEAD lecture, sponsored by Irish Life & Permanent. This year, we had Senator Feargal Quinn speaking and of course the blog launch! Senator Quinn was warmly welcomed and what he had to say was very well recieved. I attach his speech here and also the press releases from the day. I hope to put up some video soon as we filmed the whole lecture.

I think it was successful – anyone here who was at it have any feedback? Probably what I enjoyed most, apart from the Senator’s speech, was the social aspect of it. People really seemed to be talking to each other and as there were people there from many different backgrounds (disability organisations, students, employers, policy makers, civil service and so on) this was great to see!

The blog has so far been well received, and I’ve fixed some of the problems people were having – including making it easier to comment, so on we shall go….


Some photos from the event

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