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Paid Internships are Helping Graduates with Disabilities

By March 3, 2016March 6th, 2024Jobseeker

Hiring trends from 2015-16 show significant growth in the recruitment of recent graduates with disabilities through paid internships.

Statistics from Career Edge, Canada’s largest provider of paid internships, report that 31% more recent graduates with disabilities secured employment opportunities compared to the previous year[1], citing a change in employer commitment and candidate engagement.

Half of the reported growth was concentrated among financial institutions and public services, with more employers in these sectors augmenting their diversity, inclusion, and accessibility mandates. Together, these sectors increased the total number of graduates with disabilities hired by 15%.

Graduates are also finding greater success in securing employment through paid internships, as more are willing to have open conversations about their disability, explains Graham Sogawa, Vice President of Partnerships and Recruitment at Career Edge.

“We changed our strategy in terms of how we engage with recent grads in our talent pool,” he said. “We started having more open and constructive discussions around accommodations, which has made a big difference when it comes to helping our candidates navigate the recruitment process.”

By the time they graduate from college or university, the majority of new graduates have learned to adapt and accommodate their disability. But when it comes to seeking employment, many candidates choose not to disclose a disability or avoid making requests for accommodations with employers, fearing that it may diminish their chances.

This has been a major stumbling block for those looking to make the transition from school to work, but Sogawa credits the shift in candidate engagement as having a profound impact on their ability to overcome any barriers that their disability may have posed.

“We’re able to have conversations that candidates may not feel comfortable having with a prospective employer,” Sogawa said, “We’re helping them to understand that their ability to overcome adversity is an achievement worth sharing, not something to hide.”

A key factor contributing to the success of recent graduates with disabilities in securing employment through paid internships is a shift in attitudes towards disability disclosure and accommodation. Graham Sogawa, Vice President of Partnerships and Recruitment at Career Edge, notes that the organization revamped its engagement strategy with recent graduates, fostering open and constructive discussions around accommodations. This approach has empowered candidates to navigate the recruitment process with confidence, mitigating concerns about disclosing their disability or requesting accommodations.

Despite the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in the job market, many recent graduates have learned to adapt and accommodate their disabilities by the time they complete their education. However, reluctance to disclose disabilities or request accommodations remains a significant barrier to employment for some candidates. By encouraging candidates to embrace their experiences and accomplishments in overcoming adversity, Career Edge aims to dispel stigmas surrounding disability in the workplace and foster a culture of inclusivity.

Ultimately, the positive hiring trends observed among recent graduates with disabilities reflect a growing recognition among employers of the value and talent that individuals with diverse backgrounds bring to the workforce. By prioritizing inclusivity and actively engaging with candidates with disabilities, organizations can tap into a rich pool of talent and create a more vibrant and diverse work environment.

[1] Statistics compare 2014-15 to 2015-16 and relate to Career Edge’s fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).


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