University College Cork is Ireland’s leading research institute, with excellent support systems and countless opportunities to develop both academically and personally. After observing poor post-graduate outcomes for disabled UCC graduates, UCC’s careers service and disability support service joined up to develop an Employability Skills Programme for autistic students.
What was the background?
After looking into post-graduate outcomes for disabled UCC graduates over a 5-year period, a number of stark findings were uncovered:
- 50% were in full time employment
- 14% were in part-time employment
- 36% were unemployed (of these 50% had never been employed).
Amongst other initiatives, UCC’s careers service and disability support service joined up to develop an Employability Skills Programme for autistic students.
What does the Employability Skills Programme involve?
UCC developed the programme in collaboration with ASPECT, a support service for autistic adults in Cork. It has 2 parts:
- Finding your Future – This involves 2 workshops designed to help students work out what it is they would like to do in terms of career development.
- Employability Skills Programme – 9 sessions covering: teamwork skills, communication skills, CVs, interviews, disclosure, time management, conflict resolution and negotiation skills, and a practice interview. All of the sessions are interactive and attended by groups of approximately 12 students.
Many autistic students have now taken part in this programme, supporting and developing their awareness of skills which are required for the professional workplace. UCC have received a lot of really positive feedback from both employers and students on the Employability Skills Programme. There are now plans to add voluntary work experience to the offering.
Tips to share with careers advisors
- Continue to run individualised careers support alongside these group sessions.
- Engage with employers. Many companies are eager to get involved in diversity and inclusion initiatives.