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


Work Placement Programme Increases Numbers DESPITE Recession

Initiative proves graduates with disabilities can work

Full Press release

Over 150 placements for graduates with disabilities have been secured in major Irish Employers’ during the last 7 years. With 48% of graduates who completed placements in the private sector progressing to full time work.

Graduates who take part in the programme are from all across Ireland and have disabilities ranging from physical impairments to specific learning difficulties to mental health issues to visual and hearing impairments and Asperger’s Syndrome.

The AHEAD WAM Programme is currently funded by FAS and despite the onset of the recession has continued to increase its numbers. In addition, the programme has also reached out to over 300 professionals on the topics of disability and mental health at over 40 employer events.

The success of the programme was celebrated today in Leinster House where Senator Martin Conway, a founding member of AHEAD, presented awards to leading employers who continue to support the programme.

Ann Heelan, Director of AHEAD told employers:

Students with disabilities are doing as well if not better than their peers in third level achieving first and second class honours degrees. It is fantastic to now see them progressing from higher education into mainstream employment where they can excel in their chosen field.

Andrew Blair, an employer involved in the programme told those present:

The WAM Programme has successfully opened up opportunities for people with disabilities providing them with training; work experience and ultimately a chance of obtaining a long term career

Benjamin Hopkins, a graduate participant from Dublin had this to say:

I have worked for Citi for one year and three months and I have found WAM’s support invaluable in an advisory capacity both to me and Citi. Their support was often provided informally to achieve an open working relationship to aid discussion about often sensitive issues

Speaking to employers Senator Martin Conway said:

The recent jobs strategy announced by the Taoiseach and Minister Bruton is a very welcome development. But job creation must be inclusive and the Government has a duty to ensure that people with disabilities are not precluded from meaningful participation in the workplace. The WAM Leaders Meeting today in Leinster House is a very symbolic event given that the Government have dedicated job creation as its number one priority

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Creating Inclusive Environments in Education and Employment for People with Disabilities

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