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AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
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The Business Case

The business advantage to be gained from a diverse workforce has long been acknowledged by leading global companies. Successful employers strive to be the best in their field. A major part of this ambition relies on their ability to attract and recruit the best talent available. What if the best person for the job, the person with the most potential, has a disability, specific learning difficulty or medical condition? Does this present a problem for you as an employer? Employers may want to take note of the experience of the Irish education system, which has borne witness to an increase in diversity, particularly in relation to students with disabilities. 

There are an unprecedented number of people with disabilities moving right through the mainstream Irish education system and graduating from a number of different graduate and postgraduate disciplines. In 2012/2013, Higher Education Institutions in Ireland identified a total of 9087 students with disabilities, representing a 15% year on year rise in the number of students with disabilities from 11/12. This movement of diversely qualified people with disabilities from third level into the mainstream labour market is a recent phenomenon and employers seeking to gain a competitive edge may want to keep an eye on this skilled and, perhaps more significantly, growing pool of potential employees.

It is now more important than ever that employers have the ability to recruit and select the most appropriate candidate for the position on offer - regardless of whether that person has a disability or fits a certain stereotype. The costs associated with getting recruitment wrong i.e. reviewing performances, terminating contracts, further recruitment campaigns and retraining are something employers would all rather avoid.

With the previous point in mind, minimizing the potential pool of applicants through advertising campaigns and recruitment processes which are not accessible to qualified people with disabilities put simply - does not make good business sense. A number of research reports on the business advantage of a diverse workforce have indicated the added value brought by the creative solutions to work tasks offered by diversity, not to mention the insight into the potential customer base - which itself has never been more diverse. Companies who ignore the ever moving, ever shifting nature of the modern business world and continue to recruit and employ the same type of people are at risk of becoming stagnant - the same people may only result in the same ideas.

In striving to attract the best, your company may need to recruit and employ people with a range of disabilities, specific learning difficulties or medical conditions - it all boils down to talent!!

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