We recently caught up with Ross Pollard, from Adopt an Intern, to get an update on the EmployAbility: Disabling Barriers project and here's what he had to say.
Summary of the research
I am happy to report that all the interviews have now been completed and the survey closed. In total from the surveys we have 104 disabled graduate responses and 87 employer responses.
Breaking down the employers into more detail: 48 are from the private sector, 20 from the third sector and 18 from the public sector. It is noteworthy that 25 of those businesses had employee numbers beyond 250, while other numbers were 28 businesses between 1-10 employees and 24 businesses that had 11-50 employees. Therefore, the data we have received reflects a diverse range of organisations and sizes which is fantastic.
For the follow-up interviews we now have a total of 12 employers and 10 disabled graduates. The feedback received from the in-depth interviews have been invaluable – as a survey by itself can only tell us so much.
Overall, there is a lot of goodwill from businesses to recruit more disabled graduates but there is a lack of awareness from them of the specific nature of the barriers they experience. In addition, there is also a lack of awareness of disability employability schemes and support. For example, 82% of businesses in the survey had never heard of the UK Government’s Disability Confident scheme. More shockingly, 54% had not heard of the grant to help pay for adjustments, Access to Work.
There is also a substantial problem overall with the way ‘reasonable adjustments’ are unclearly defined in the UK Equality Act 2010. There is no clear guidance on how to make them or what they are.
What this shows is that there is a clear need for outreach education and thought-leadership workshops aimed at employers around making adjustments, disability support schemes and grants, and general knowledge of disability employability barriers.
What is happening now
Right now, I am analysing the data and writing up a report that highlights the findings and solutions for what needs to be done - education being at the heart of that. Some organisations have already got in touch with me about this, as they are eager to see and use the findings. Interestingly, there is an administrator from the Department from Work and Pensions who wants to share the results with her colleagues in London.
Because of this project I was also invited to permanently join the Scottish Funding Council’s panel on Disabled University Student Outcomes, to help them identify how to best support disabled students and graduates. The Scottish Funding Council are the body that funds Scottish universities.
On top of this, we are pitching to Scottish Water at the moment about funding a series of educational thought-leadership workshops from January to December next year. They have shown an interest in the EmployAbility project and it would be great to get this funding.
What further funding for this project would allow me to do is take the research findings and solutions directly to employers and apply them through practical education, to try and disable the barriers disabled graduates face accessing employment. It would also allow me to do a series of networking engagements trying to raise awareness of the issue and push that agenda – that recruitment needs to be more inclusive and flexible.
Words from Mark Townley, EVMT's Managing Director:
EVMT has been proud to have sponsored the not-for-profit organisation Adopt an Intern
(AAI) over the last two years in support of their initiatives to help graduates who are
disabled or from disadvantaged backgrounds. Working closely with AAI’s excellent CEO, Joy
Lewis, these initiatives are beginning to provide some great insight into the issues these
graduates face and measures required to help them in their careers.
AAI are liaising with the government agencies to develop the good progress made so far but
further sponsorship from the private sector would be of huge benefit to both AAI and the
wider business community as potentially untapped but capable resource become available
in the market place.
As EVMT’s Managing Director, I can personally vouch for the professionalism and dedication of AAI and would recommend helping them meet their goals and giving something back to the community by sponsoring them.
If you are interested and require further information, please contact Joy at: