Trinity Launches Career Pathways – Transition to Employment Service

Posted on: 12 September 2014

Career Pathways, a new transition to employment service for students and graduates with disabilities was recently launched by Trinity’s Dean of Students, Professor Kevin O’Kelly.  Career Pathways is an innovative service which was established through a unique collaboration between the Trinity College Disability Service and the Careers Advisory Service, with the support from the Genio Trust Fund.   Career Pathways is being provided to Trinity College students registered with the Disability Service and will be rolled out to other higher education institutes in the coming months: University College Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin City University and Marino Institute of Education.

At the Career Pathways launch were, from left: Matthew Corbally, Trinity student; Professor Kevin O'Kelly, Dean of Students; Eileen Daly, Careers Advisor, Career Pathways; Claire Gleeson, Senior Occupational Therapist, Career Pathways; Kieran Lewis, Senior Occupational Therapist, Career Pathways; Amie Hynes Fitzpatrick, Keynote Speaker, Communications Professional; Sean Gannon, Director of Careers Advisory Service; Dr. Clodagh Nolan, Associate Professor, Discipline of Occupational Therapy and Director of Unilink and Declan Treanor, Director of Disability Service.

The purpose of Career Pathways is to enable students with disabilities to reflect upon and gather their work experiences throughout college; to explore their career options; to enhance their awareness of their needs, and to support them in managing their disability within the workplace.

“Over the past ten years, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of people with disabilities entering, and succeeding in higher education, as a result of an increased emphasis on access policies and through the provision of targeted supports while in college,” said Declan Treanor, Director of the Disability Service.  “These students are now graduating in ever increasing numbers, but graduates with disabilities experience additional challenges in comparison to their non-disabled peers as they transition into a highly competitive labour market”.  In Ireland, people with disabilities are two and a half times less likely to be in work than non-disabled people (NDA 2014).

Dr Clodagh Nolan, Assistant Professor in the Discipline of Occupational Therapy and Director of the Unilink Service carried out a research project in 2013, with the aim of establishing the needs of students with disabilities in their transition to the workplace and to act as an evidence base for the development of Career Pathways. “Students within the research identified that they required support to develop their confidence in their abilities to contribute to the workforce.  Particular areas of support identified included CV preparation, understanding the importance of engaging in work experience and extracurricular activities in college, gaining an understanding of reasons for disclosure of disability and the benefits of accessing reasonable accommodations in the workplace,” said Dr Nolan.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, 2011) recommends that higher education institutes need to prepare young adults with disabilities in the world of work. Of note, the Trinity College Disability Service identified that graduates with disabilities were returning to the service for advice and support in making the transition to employment after graduation. Consequently, the Disability Service included ‘Transition to Employment’ as a key objective in the Strategic Plan, and as a result Career Pathways was developed.

The Career Pathways Launch was attended by over eighty people, including employers, students, graduates, guidance counsellors and support staff and academic staff from higher education institutes throughout Ireland. The attendees had the opportunity to hear inspirational and passionate speeches from the keynote speaker, Ms Amie Hynes Fitzpatrick, a communications professional, who has previously worked within Kanchi and NCBI; Matthew Corbally, a Trinity student; and Jim Murphy, a partner in McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors.

For more information on Career Pathways please visit the Career Pathways website, or email the Career Pathways team.