Barry Walsh rounds up the various organisations that provide employment support for those with disabilities.
According to the National Disability Authority, of the 15-to-64 age group of the 331,145 disabled people that could be in full-time employment, less than 74% are fully employed. This is compared to 18% of the total population.
One of the most useful areas to increase the number of people with disabilities in the workplace is companies that provide employment support to help those with disabilities gain employment. Some of the best examples of this are:
AHEAD has been helping people with disabilities gain employment and training. Their ‘Willing and Able Mentoring” programme has helped over 2,500 graduates into full-time, paid employment. Through six or nine-month contracts, the graduates apply for positions advertised on the AHEAD website, and if accepted, they are then placed in an organisation and are given a mentor to ensure they are accommodated during their placement.
Different associations of different conditions often will have employment support officers employed within the association so that they can give specific advice to their user base. Some also train employers as to how best to incorporate their members into their recruitment process so that their organisation can become more diverse and inclusive. Some of the organisation that provide job coaching are:
- Irish Wheelchair Association
- Irish Down Syndrome Association
- Acquired Brain Injury Ireland
- Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind
- Spina Bifida And Hydrocephalus Ireland
- Enable Ireland
Aspire Ireland “envisions a world where people with Asperger’s syndrome have the same opportunities to work, socialise and participate as everyone else.” Aspire Ireland launched Aspire Productions, a full-service creative agency that only employs people with the condition. According to its website: “Our vision is to make the media industry an autism-friendly field and our mission is to enable people with Asperger’s syndrome to achieve their dreams by creating kick-ass media.”
Business In The Community is an organisation that works with large organisation to increase their Corporate Social Responsibilities in ways such as their Low Carbon Pledge that reduces their members carbon emissions. However, they also have job coaches and career guidance counselors available to reach underrepresented groups, and have programmes available to:
- EPIC Programme helps migrants to Ireland
- Ready For Work This programme assist People with Disabilities
- Women@Work For Women getting back into the workplace
A dedicated supported employment service which aims to bring young people with intellectual disabilities and /or autism closer to the labour market. This programme assists jobseekers at key transition points between education, training and employment. This funded programme is available to young people 18-to-29 years. There services includes; job coaching, interview skills and information on rights, entitlements, contracts and benefits, to name a few.
Crann is the charity providing lifelong support for families living with neuro-physical disabilities in Ireland.
According to its website: “We imagine a world where families living with neuro-physical disabilities can flourish, thanks to seamless support and an inclusive society. Our services are focused on, but not limited to, people who have Spina Bifida, Hydrocephalus, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, Childhood Stroke and Spinal Cord Injury.” As part of their education and career pathways pillar they “port adults, children and families to overcome challenges and succeed in education and improve their ability to pursue their careers. Our experienced team offer practical supports in mastering IT (hardware and applications) and Assistive Technologies.”
It also provides supported employment to people with disabilities that want to open their own businesses.
Employability provides coaching to people with disabilities in order to gain employment. Its support officers go through CVs, cover letters, interview skills and much more. As a government run scheme, Employability can then access a wage subsidy grant of €10,528, (for a six month or more contract) to the employer so that this could contribute to the employees’ wages.
Gheel champions and supports autistic people in the greater Dublin and North Kildare region. We provide day, residential, supported living and outreach services, with the goal of maximising independence and enhancing quality of life. All of our programmes are tailored to recognise the neurodiversity model, and co-operation with autistic people is a must! Staff receive regular autism-specific person centered training and they are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to enable each individual they support to have positive and meaningful life experiences. This includes employment support for some of their users.
An Irish founded start-up that specialises in providing free mentoring services to graduates and those intending to graduate. Through the programme they run the grads, receive a mentor from one of the fastest growing companies in the technology sector in ireland. They then work with the technology companies to find the correct roles and companies for the grads on their service to join.
Irish Local Development Network have nearly 50 local development companies that work with people in their local communities. As part of their labour market activation pillar each partnership will have a jobs club, where they give cover letters, CV advice and interviews. Some also run programmes that build conference and motivation so that the participants reimagining themselves in successful employment. You can view your local development network partnership here.
Peter Barbazon set up the Irish chapter of the global company to support people with autism to gain and maintain employment. “Specialisterne Ireland has developed hiring and management practices that facilitate the employment of our candidates by removing the barriers to once inaccessible industries and careers.” Since then, Specialisterne has worked with over 40 companies to provide employment to hundreds of people living with the condition.
In 2020, some of Ireland’s biggest employers came together to create an organisation designed to increase employment opportunities for people in marginalised groups in society. Since then, the Open Doors Initiative has been supported by the government and has been an enormous success working with businesses such as Business in The Community, Pobal, CPL and many more.
Having been in business for more than 70 years Rehab Group has been giving employment to people with disabilities longer than any other company on this list. Its National Learning Network gives education to their users in an inclusive setting, with trained teachers in the area of disabilities. They can advise their students on potential employment paths or further education they need to reach their path. They can then provide employment through their social enterprises that has been one of the most successful business models for employing people with disabilities in Ireland.
Trinity College Dublin created the Trinity Access Programme in 1993, in an effort to get more people from disadvantaged backgrounds into Trinity College Dublin. It now offer a range of different programmes as they say “for people with the enthusiasm, motivation and ability to succeed at third-level. We engage with communities and schools in low progression areas to encourage a positive mindset and support real steps towards going to University.” This can then progress into a degree and further courses within the college.
In a first for Ireland in October 2021, TU Dublin ran a self-employment course designed for people with disabilities who want to become self employed. Professor Tom Cooney in TU Dublin designed the course so that more people with disabilities can become entrepreneurs and gain the skills and tools to do so. The course is run over weeks and students will be assessed on their overall business plan.
A movement for change, WALK is focused on empowering people with disabilities to live self-determined lives in an equal and inclusive societ. According to its website: “At WALK, we believe that everyone who wants to work, have a job and a career can do so. Our role is to facilitate individuals to their employment and career aspirations by supporting them to realise their potential, access opportunities and build their own natural supports.”