AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
Creating inclusive environments in education & employment for people with disabilities.


WAM for Graduates

The WAM Programme offers graduates with disabilities the chance to undertake a minimum 6 month, paid, mentored work placements with high profile Irish employers.

Watch the video below to find out an overview of WAM.

Have more information drop down by clicking the headings below.

The WAM Placement Process

A WAM placement is a minimum 6 month, paid, mentored work placement in a company for graduates with disabilities. Placements can be in the private or public sector and are typically mainstream graduate entry level positions. Graduates must compete for roles that are available, as they would when applying for any job.

The following process outlines how a typical WAM Placement works:

  • Recruitment & Selection
  • WAM Needs Assessment
  • The WAM Mentoring Model
  • Pre Placement Training
  • The WAM Placement
  • Evaluation

Recruitment & Selection

WAM advertises opportunities available through the programme to those who are registered on WAMworks, our graduate database and across other networks. Information about the roles available as well as instructions on how to apply will be listed in the current opportunities section of our website. Interested graduates then submit applications and these are processed by the WAM Team.

Although WAM advertises the roles that are available, each employer receives all completed applications and applies their own recruitment and selection processes to the candidates. After interviews have been conducted, a candidate is chosen by the employer for the role available.

Please Note: WAM is a mainstream competitive process and there is no guarantee of an interview or a placement with the WAM Programme.

WAM Needs Assessment

Successful candidates, who are offered a placement, must complete a WAM Needs Assessment before beginning their placement.

The WAM Needs Assessment is conducted by a member of the WAM Team and will look at what reasonable accommodations, if any, the candidate will require in order to undertake the role they have been offered. A Needs Assessment Recommendations Report is compiled by WAM in consultation with the candidate and this is then returned to the employer prior to the placement beginning.

Please Note: Candidates will be asked to disclose their disability for the purpose of the needs assessment, but this information will not be made available to the employer without the candidates’ consent.

The following are some example of the types of reasonable accommodations that have been put in place by employers for WAM Placements:

  • Assistive Technology for visually impaired graduates such as JAWS & Kurzweil;
  • Time off for medical appointments;
  • Sign language interpreters for interviews for graduates who are deaf
  • Modifications to work tasks

The WAM Mentoring Model

Every candidate who takes up a WAM Placement is allocated an in-house mentor. Mentors are other employees who work in the organisation but who are not the placed candidates’ direct line manager or supervisor. Mentoring is a process through which an experienced person provides support, guidance and encouragement to a less experienced person. Both candidates and mentors are provided with training on the WAM Mentoring Model prior to the placement beginning.

Pre Placement Training

Before the placement starts, training is provided to participating managers, mentors and placed candidates on the programme. Training covers topics such as the WAM Programme itself, disability awareness and the WAM Mentoring Model. It is during the pre-placement training that mentors and placed candidates (also known as mentees) meet for the first time.

Please Note: Pre placement training is compulsory for all involved in the WAM Programme.

The WAM Placement

After pre placement training takes place, successful candidates start their new role in the company. Members of the WAM Team check in with mentees, managers and mentors regularly to ensure that the placement is going well and all agreed supports are in place.


At the end of the placement, WAM carries out an evaluation to gather the learning from all parties involved. The purpose of the evaluation is to ensure that WAM captures and consolidates the learning from all involved in the programme.

What are the Benefits of a WAM Placement?

WAM offers graduates with disabilities and specific learning difficulties the opportunity to gain mentored work placements of up to 6 months with some of Ireland’s biggest employers. These graduate placements are paid at the going rate for the positions on offer and provide an excellent opportunity to showcase and develop skills acquired during your education and training.

WAM placements offer a number of benefits for graduates with disabilities and specific learning difficulties.

These include:

  • Upskilling workshops
  • Paid work experience
  • The opportunity to demonstrate skills
  • Career development
  • A safe space to disclose
  • A Comprehensive Needs Assessment to identify supports in the workplace
  • Support of a mentor on site
  • Training prior to internship
  • Ongoing support from WAM throughout
  • Advice on workplace supports
  • Enrolment into WAM’s online course
  • Improved confidence

AHEAD has also secured an agreement with DSP in relation to the payment of Illness/Disability Payments. You can read more about this here. 

What past WAM Mentees have said about their placement:

‘It gives managers the opportunity to see what graduates with disabilities can do and gives graduates with disabilities the opportunity to get work experience and confidence.’

 ‘You'll never get experience without work and will never get work without experience. This project broke the vicious circle for me’

 ‘I was the first person with a sight problem to come into that building, a lot of people benefited from knowing me and working with me…’

‘I was teaching them as much as they were teaching me’

How Do I Apply?

The first step to applying for a WAM Placement is to register with us via our WAMworks database. Please register here.

Creating Inclusive Environments in Education and Employment for People with Disabilities

East Hall, UCD, Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin.
T +353 1 592 1467 E ahead@ahead.ie W www.ahead.ie RCN 20025182