Young people leading the conversation on meaningful employment
My name is Ella and I have Asperger’s. I love to stand up for my rights and hopefully help change things for me and others in a similar position. I also write poetry that highlights some of my struggles.
I left college in 2017 after doing a Level 3 in child’s play, learning and development and began looking for work.
Since then I have done lots of volunteering and have had lots of paid work. Out of the four jobs I have had only two have been disability confident. I never know until I get to the interview if the job is disability confident and sometimes, I don’t even know until I am in the job.
One example of this was when I was working in a local nursery. The manager said in a meeting she wanted to put me on her website so people could see they were employing someone with Asperger’s but when I asked her for help with my difficulties at work, she was unable to help.
Another example of this was where after an interview in another nursery the manager said they would rather employ someone who didn’t have a disability and could do the job without support.
I thought childcare would be a supportive environment for their workers but so many places in this sector are not.
I am now looking at shop jobs and yes, the sector might be more supportive than childcare but the application process is not. I had to get my brother to help me get through the online scenario-based questions so I could hopefully get to the interview process as they have no alternative option for people who are disabled.
As you can see from all this the world of work has a long way to go before it becomes fully Disability Confident.
My advice to employers would be:
- Use this pandemic when things might be shut or quieter to review how Disability Confident you actually are. (Don’t just have the badge on your website).
- YES! Think seriously and willingly about employing people with a disability.
- If someone needs/asks for support in the workplace see this as a strength and then get to know their needs and how best you can support those.
- Consider having an alternative application process for people with a disability. Ask candidates what sort of process they would like and offer some suggestions.
- Ask if the candidate needs interview support or the interview process changed and again offer some suggestions. Tell them what the interview is going to be like and give them a contact number or email they can use for any further questions.
- If you see someone is struggling/not performing well then reach out and chat to them as they may have a disability they haven’t told you about and needs you don’t know about.
- Learn about different disabilities and write that on your website so people feel confident to apply to you (for example say you are trained in Autism and understand what it is).
The most important thing of all is to create an environment that people like me with Asperger’s feel they can progress in and want to work in.
Give people like me a way in and a way up. People with a disability can and will be a great asset to your team. So, don’t shut us out and turn us away, give us a chance and employ us today!