AHEAD launches careers fair for students and graduates with disabilities
Employers are missing out on a wealth of untapped talent, skills and creativity if they exclude graduates with disabilities from job interview lists. That’s according to Executive Director of AHEAD, Ann Heelan, who was speaking at the launch of ‘Building the Future’, a careers fair aimed at students and graduates with disabilities.
The event, which is now in its eighth year, will give attendees face time with employers in the private and public sectors, allowing individuals to learn more about the jobs that are available and the support that can be offered. It will also comprise a number of practical elements, such as mock job interviews, advice on CV writing techniques and a chance to receive a professional headshot. Several workshops will cover a range of topics on the day, including how to prepare for interview, how to use social media and personal branding and choosing a career path. Organisations in attendance will include hosts Citi, alongside ESB, Accenture, DellEMC, the Central Bank of Ireland, the Public Appointment Service and the HSE, among others.
‘Building the Future’ is part of GetAHEAD, an initiative of AHEAD, which works to up-skill graduates with disabilities through training events and by providing information on a range of topics relating to disability and employment. Graduates can also apply to participate in the WAM (Willing Able Mentoring) programme. Set up by AHEAD in 2005, WAM promotes access to the labour market for graduates with disabilities, and helps build the capacity of employers to integrate disability into the workplace. To date, WAM has provided more than 400 placements for graduates with disabilities, with 77% of these securing employment after their internship.
Commenting, Ms Heelan said: “While many members of Ireland’s business community have acknowledged the importance of diversity and inclusion for their organisation, more must be done to action these ambitions and see the increased hiring of people with disabilities. Preconceptions often prevent employers from embracing a diverse workforce, including those living with a disability, and this presents a huge missed opportunity.
“We work with employers to address concerns, help put in place inclusive hiring practices and to ensure optimum working environments. This is particularly important in the context of an ever-increasing number of third-level students with disabilities: research undertaken by AHEAD shows that this number has risen by 62% over the past five years. Organisations should be aware of the unique benefits to be enjoyed through hiring practices that champion diversity. As well as bringing unique skills and experiences, a diverse team serves to create a more open and enriched organisational culture.
“Building the Future represents an invaluable opportunity for potential employers and employees to connect and I would like to encourage students and graduates with a disability to register for the event and find out more about the wealth of placement and employment opportunities. I also call on organisations who are committed to hiring and integrating people with disabilities in their organisation, to make contact with AHEAD for information on what meaningful steps they can take to make a real difference.”
Commenting, Citi Country Manager for Ireland, Cecilia Ronan, added: “Diversity is a core value at Citi, and we are delighted to work in partnership with AHEAD to host this year’s Building the Future event. As a business, Citi’s success relies on acquiring the best job applicants, drawn from a range of backgrounds, and that includes people living with a disability. As well as reaffirming our organisation’s commitment to creating an inclusive workplace for all, hosting this event represents a valuable opportunity for Citi to engage with prospective employees, and we look forward to welcoming potential new members of the Citi team.”
‘Building the Future’ takes place in Citi, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1, on Friday, 24th May from 10am-2pm. Registration is via Eventbrite and costs €5. For more information, visit ahead.ie/buildingthefuture.