Employment initiative launched for graduates with disabilities

L-R: Leonard Cheshire Ireland director Fiona McCabe, Professor Mark Durkin, UUBS and final year marketing student, Ellen Watson.
L-R: Leonard Cheshire Ireland director Fiona McCabe, Professor Mark Durkin, UUBS and final year marketing student, Ellen Watson.

A INITIATIVE has been launched to support employment opportunities for university graduates with disabilities in the north.

GradEmployNI sees the Leonard Cheshire charity partner with the Ulster University Business School (UUBS).

Leonard Cheshire said just 38 per cent of people with disabilities in Northern Ireland are in positions of employment, with the 16-24 age group particularly affected.

From today business are being invited to sign up to become placement hosts.

Those who make it through the interview process will be matched to their host following a four-week skills and training bootcamp with UUBS.

Firms will be fully reimbursed to enable their graduate to be paid the National Living Wage for the duration of the placement.

Leonard Cheshire Ireland Director Fiona McCabe said: “There is a wealth of untapped talent amongst graduates with disabilities who are all too often overlooked in the recruitment process.

“We want to change this and are inviting businesses to sign up to become a placement host and improve their inclusiveness and create career opportunities for qualified and highly skilled individuals at no cost to their business,” she added.

“Leonard Cheshire will support our partners with bespoke training on disability and help businesses become more inclusive for people with disabilities.”

Professor Mark Durkin, Executive Dean of UUBS said: “Graduate employability is at the forefront of everything we do within the Business School and given today’s increasingly dynamic labour market, it’s so important that we continue to offer new learning opportunities and experiences that equip our graduates with the expertise and confidence to succeed in the world of work.

“This pioneering new initiative will provide recent graduates with disabilities a route into industry and employment through skills support and paid placements with leading employers, helping learners maximise their potential and move forward in their career journey. We are very pleased to be working with Leonard Cheshire to deliver this employability support programme and look forward to seeing the added value that learners and employers will gain.”

Ellen Watson, a final year BSc marketing student, said: “The GradEmploy NI programme is an incredible opportunity for graduate students, who have a disability, seeking to gain invaluable experience working with Northern Ireland organisations.

“The programme provides free bespoke training which will help students transition into the working world with the opportunity to secure paid employment. This opportunity is one not to be missed.”