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Businesses tackle employment inequality with internships for students with disabilities

BySophie Maclean

Oct 14, 2018

Leading disability charity, Leonard Cheshire, has joined forces with top businesses for its Change 100 scheme. This will offer paid internships to students and graduates with disabilities in the Summer of 2019. The award-winning internship scheme provides the opportunity to do three months of paid work experience with top employers such as the BBC, Standard Life, Lloyds Banking Group, and Taylor Wimpey. With 90 employers on board around the UK, across a range of industries and sectors, this could be a life-changing opportunity for disabled students and graduates to kick-start their careers.

The scheme is aimed at students and graduates with disabilities or long-term health conditions, including physical and sensory impairments, mental health conditions or learning disabilities. People with disabilities face huge employment inequality across the UK, with the disability employment gap in Scotland particularly high at 35.8 per cent. Leonard Cheshire argues that employer attitudes are a big factor within this issue, and the scheme aims to change that.

Victoria Passant, Programme Manager for Leonard Cheshire, says that, “Entering the world of work is a challenging time in any young person’s life, but people with disabilities face additional challenges when finding employment”. To combat this, these highly-coveted internships help to make the workplace more accessible. The internships offer mentoring and guidance to successful applicants throughout their placement and provide support for identifying and requesting disability-related adjustments. They also supports businesses by giving advice and guidance on how to help employees with disabilities and long-term health conditions.

Victoria, a 2018 Change 100 intern who carried out a work experience placement at the Department for International Development (DFID) in East Kilbride, said “I have loved my experience with [the] DFID and Change 100. I feel very well supported by my employer – when I first started, they invested a lot of time into finding out my preferred ways of working, how I worked best, what I was interested in, and where I was interested in progressing. They took all of this into account when considering my tasks going forward”.

The Change 100 scheme is a unique programme offering valuable, paid experience with prestigious employers, enabling students and graduates with disabilities to gain confidence, networks and skills necessary to accelerate in their chosen career. 

If you are a student with a disability and you are interested in applying to the scheme, visit Leonard Cheshire’s application page. Applications are open until 16th January 2019. 

Photo: DFID – UK Department for International Development via Flickr

By Sophie Maclean

Current News Editor and second year politics student

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