Employers have ‘no idea’ about disability, say disabled students

15 January 2016

Group of six Change100 participantsDisabled students from some of the UK's leading universities say employers’ lack of knowledge about disability often gets in the way of successful job hunting.

Interview-based evidence from over fifty students said, until finding support in schemes such as Change100, few had had good experiences in the workplace.

Change100 is a paid internship programme which brings together the UK’s top employers and talented disabled students.

Selbi is an undergraduate at London School of Economics (LSE) who had a summer paid placement through Change100.

‘I once had to quit a job with a small retailer because despite having told my boss I would need regular bathroom breaks owing to kidney disease, I was often the only one on duty and couldn’t leave the shop. I was so embarrassed to ask that I got very ill and had to quit.’ — Selbi

Natasha, who is also at LSE, features in our new animation:


‘Your confidence is really rocked when employers don’t understand you could be good at a job but just need reasonable adjustments — such as a larger screen, flexible work hours or a different chair to make a difference to your work.’ — Natasha

About Change100

The Change100 programme, which has run since 2014, supports talented university students with a disability or a long-term health condition to find paid placements over the summer.

The programme offers participants workshops on time-management, practicalities of the first weeks, and how to disclose a disability with an employer.

Applications for this year close on 31 January 2016. Find out more and apply now.

Businesses involved in hiring students in 2015 include the BBC, Lloyds Bank, DFID, the Tate, Taylor Wimpey, Thomson Reuters, Wall to Wall and SABMiller.

Research shows concerns about disclosing disabilities on applications

The student views come on the back of research carried out in October 2015 by research consultancy ComRes for Leonard Cheshire Disability.

The study found that 77% of young disabled people (18–24) said they felt sharing information about their disability with a potential employer would affect the outcome of gaining employment.

‘Having a programme like Change100 is really helpful.

‘It allows you to apply to enter the job market knowing the disabled side of things is already understood by employers, so you are taken on the basis of your skills and talent.

‘It takes the pressure off having to explain anything.’ — Natasha

Victoria Passant is Change100's programme manager at Leonard Cheshire Disability.

‘You don’t have to disclose anything at all at work or when looking for a job, but it can be helpful for your employer to know if you have a disability, so they can support you.

‘You can even just ask for adjustments, rather than explain everything. It is in an employer’s best interests to give you a work environment which helps you thrive and do your best work.’ — Victoria

Get involved in Change100

Helena Ely, Head of Production at Wall to Wall productions, said:

‘Being involved in Change100 has been a great experience and I would encourage other employers to join the scheme.’

Find out more about Change100 and the benefits, whether you're a student or an employer. Applications for 2016 close on 31 January.

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