After EVMT provided their final instalment of funding to Adopt an Intern (AAI), we caught up with Ross Pollard, who is currently working with the company as a Research Project Officer, to hear about the work he has been conducting regarding Disabled Graduates.
Here's what he had to say regarding his job opportunities survey:
"I am happy to report that the interview stage of the project is giving us so much useful information we can use.
Interviews have so far been conducted cross-sector (third sector, private and public), as they all seem to be struggling with this issue. However, there is a lot that can be learned from the third sector regarding making adjustments for disabled candidates, which I feel SMEs could really learn from.
The main aim of the research will be to help as many SMEs as possible in the long run. Generally speaking, third sector organisations are better at providing adjustments that make it easier for disabled candidates to demonstrate their skills. Private businesses tend to veer more towards offering bare minimal adjustments, which is unfortunate.
There are several prominent Scottish companies I have engaged, and engaging more private businesses (SMEs) in London and across the UK generally. One big success is that we will be working with Scottish Enterprise to help promote our findings among the many client SME businesses they work with. Building partnerships with business networks across the UK will help us to make a real difference, as it will amplify our final recommendations. I am looking into finding equivalent business networks in England.
Overall, the interview data sends a clear message that employers need to be better educated about disabled people, both generally, but also about the support available for disabled workers. For example, some employers (particularly SMEs) are concerned about the financial risk of hiring a disabled worker. At the same time, many employers are unaware of the UK Government Scheme Access to Work, which provides grants to support making adjustments for a disabled person.
There is growing consensus that grant support makes a lot of difference in the hiring of disabled candidates – particularly among SME employers. It just highlights how badly needed this research really is, because we now know some of the information employers don’t know (such as Access to Work) and can build an educational online resource to plug the knowledge gap. [See Disability Rights UK - Access to work]
There is a lot of good will out there, so I am confident this project is really going to help reduce the stigma to help get more disabled workers employed. If you have any England based SME’s or business organisations that you feel would be good for me to contact, then please let me know."
Ross has recently been involved in a round table discussion at the Royal College of Psychiatrists of Scotland in Edinburgh regarding the topics of ADHD, Anxiety and employment, and has also attended the Scottish Disability Congress as part of his work with AAI.
Thank you to AAI, and especially Ross, for your hard work on this research and for sharing the findings with up. We hope that your hard work goes towards helping and supporting many others in the future.