Companies urged to get more disabled graduates into paid employment

Sophie Stowell leonard cheshire change 100

  • 100% of employers who have already taken part in Change100 would recommend it to other employers.
  • Talented disabled students score highly from employers for performance and impact on teams.

Some of the UK’s leading employers, including Barclays, Standard Life and SABMiller, are calling for more businesses to join Change100, a programme to help get disabled students into work.

Run by the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, Change100 provides paid three month work placements for talented disabled students from leading universities.

Research from the Department for Work and Pensions shows that just over half (54%) of working-age disabled people are currently not in work, compared to 24% of working-age non-disabled people. By launching Change100 Leonard Cheshire Disability wants to address the under-representation of disabled people in the workplace.

Ollie Roberts, Director: HR, Corporate Offices at SABMiller, understands the importance of a diverse workforce. He said: “There was a degree of nervousness as to how it would benefit us commercially as an organisation as well as be a positive experience for the students who joined us.

“We have been delighted with the quality of candidates and the value they have brought to the organisation. We think the programme is a great success and look forward to a long relationship with Change100.”

Sophie Stowell is one of the students whose career has taken off following her Change100 placement. The 21-year-old has landed a place on the Barclays graduate scheme and credits Leonard Cheshire with kick-starting her career.

Sophie’s manager, Payal Jain, who works as Managing Director of Strategic Analytics at Barclaycard, said: “My advice to any business considering being part of the Change100 programme would be to go for it – it’s that simple. It’s really valuable not only for the individual participants themselves, who get real hands-on experience of working in a busy commercial environment, but also in raising awareness amongst organisations and employers of the talents that candidates of all abilities can bring to business.”

Andrea Goldie, Group Talent & Organisational Development Consultant at Standard Life also appreciates the benefits of being involved in Change100. She said: “Standard Life joined Change 100 as part of our commitment to having a diverse workforce and supporting the development of skills and talent.

“Being involved with this initiative is not only helping us to support people with disabilities in their careers, it has enabled us to reach a high calibre of candidates and brought fresh insight and skills to our business. There have been some real benefits and It has been a very positive experience all round.”

Gemma Bull, Managing Director of Enterprise and Innovation at Leonard Cheshire Disability, added: “It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, we want to hear from you. Disabled people have a spending power of £80 billion. By not making your business accessible you are losing out on your share of this.

“Change100 gives employers the opportunity to harness the skills of high-flying disabled students. They could be our country’s future leaders or entrepreneurs if they are given the chance. It is a unique opportunity for employers to boost their business and change the employment landscape for disabled people.”

To find out more visit: www.leonardcheshire.org/change100

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