Universities need to play a greater role in preparing students with a disability for employment, according to a roundtable discussion held at Swinburne last week.
Swinburne has partnered with WISE Employment to explore potential ways of increasing the employability of graduates living with a disability.
The roundtable discussion was attended by current students, academia, professionals from the employment industry, and key employers.
WISE Employment CEO Matthew Lambelle believes the roundtable has the potential to promote discussion about the sensitive topic.
“The event is designed to foster an open conversation about why graduates living with a disability are being held back from entering the labour market,” he says.
“We are committed to coming away from this event with tangible ways to increase labour force participation rates for graduates living with a disability.”
Across the nation, students with a disability have a 15 per cent less chance of being employed upon graduation.
Outcomes of the Roundtable
Manager of Student Equity and Accessibility Services at Swinburne, Anthony Gartner, says the roundtable discussion was the perfect opportunity to begin planning a more supportive future for student living with a disability.
“This is a problem I've been aware of for many years and have been looking for the opportunity to further the conversation in significant ways.” he explains.
“The Roundtable seemed the perfect chance to begin to understand the complexities involved from various points of view and to identify some next steps.”
Key findings from the roundtable discussion included:
- Universities need to a play more significant role in preparing students living with a disability for employment
- Employers are often inexperienced or unaware of how productive people living with disability can be to their organisations
- People living with a disability need to be better equipped with self-advocacy skills in order to proactively educate employers as to the benefits of employing them
- Students living with a disability often struggle with the concept of disclosure, as if living with disability is something be kept a secret or be ashamed of
After promising discussions at the roundtable, Swinburne and WISE Employment are committed to increasing support for disabled students.
Mr Gartner was pleased with the outcome of the first roundtable, and is positive about the future of these discussions.
“The event was a great success, with some heartfelt conversations and a great deal of learning,” he says.
“This was the first of many conversations to come, and it was heartening to see such a high turnout.”
The partnership between Swinburne and WISE Employment is expected to continue beyond the roundtable.
“We are committed to coming away from this event with tangible ways to increase labour force participation rates for graduates living with a disability,” WISE Employment CEO Mr Lambelle says.
“The relationship with Swinburne is an important one for WISE and this event is just the beginning of our journey together.”