The Willing Abled Mentoring Programme (WAM) at AHEAD partners with leading Irish employers to offer paid graduate-level jobs exclusively for graduates with disabilities.
At an average of 32.5%, Ireland has the lowest rate of employment for people with disabilities in Europe according to a recent report from the European Disability Forum. Despite the high level of employment overall across the country, according to Eurostat figures Ireland also has the EU’s largest disability employment gap between the employment rates of persons with and without disabilities.
“Graduates with disabilities deserve the opportunity to show their skills. There is an untapped talent pool in Ireland that is being widely overlooked and the WAM programme aims to change that. In partnership with leading Irish employers, we have supported over 600 disabled graduates into full-time work placements since 2005. Our graduates have an 80% success rate of securing employment after their placements have concluded which goes to show the difference having disability-inclusive employers and peers can make,” Caroline McGrotty, Employment Manager at AHEAD has said. The WAM Programme at AHEAD works to close the disability employment gap by supporting graduates with disabilities in the transition to the workforce, and by working with employers to ensure their recruitment practices are accessible and inclusive.
AHEAD, through it’s work with the Local Government Management Agency, are partnering for their second year with the Local Government sector to recruit graduates with disabilities across Ireland for a variety of roles. The participating local authorities this year include South Dublin, Waterford, Kerry, Cavan, Monaghan. A broad range of job types are available such as Climate and Environment, Community, Library Services, Customer Service, Communications and more.
Jane Brophy, Local Government Organisational Support at the Local Government Management Agency echoed Caroline’s sentiments, adding “Equality, diversity and inclusion are core values of the local government sector. The LGMA and local authorities are delighted to be building on the success of last year’s collaboration with the WAM programme which saw 9 disabled graduates secure employment across Ireland. This partnership provides an exciting opportunity for local authorities to embody the diversity present within the communities they serve.”
The WAM Difference
Successful applicants will be invited to a needs assessment with the WAM team to discuss any support they may need to carry out their new position. Before starting their role, each successful applicant will be partnered with an in-house mentor. Mentors are other employees who work in the organisation but who are not the candidates’ direct line manager or supervisor.
The candidate, mentor and direct line manager all receive comprehensive pre-placement training on all aspects of The WAM Programme. The WAM team at AHEAD will provide ongoing support to both the candidates and the local authorities to ensure that the placements run smoothly. As Dara Ryder, CEO of AHEAD says “The research is very clear – diversity in the workplace benefits us all. The success of initiatives like the WAM programme are a strong argument in favour of moving beyond awareness towards proactive inclusion. AHEAD have seen firsthand how providing a supportive environment empowers graduates with disabilities to thrive”.
Eligible applicants can apply for the roles within the local authorities (or any of AHEAD’s upcoming opportunities) through the WAMworks database managed by AHEAD. Sign up to the database early to receive notification via email when the roles open for applications in early September.
For more information on the work of AHEAD and WAM, visit www.ahead.ie/wam.