Job Prospects for Disabled People: Are they at a disadvantage?

I was flicking through an issue of a women’s monthly magazine recently when I came across a interesting fact… an able-bodied person with no qualifications is more likely to have a job than a disabled university graduate.

Now, I am not suggesting that a university degree should automatically secure you a job; after all relevant skills and a great personality are just as important. But most people venture to university with the hope of ending up with a job that will help them climb the career ladder more quickly, which in turn would give them a higher salary. To spend upwards of £25,000 on tuition fees alone to be faced with the same job prospects as somebody who has spent no money on higher education must be frustrating.

The real issue here is the fact that these university graduates in question are disabled, whether they are in a wheelchair, or blind for example. To gain entry to a university and graduate from it, disabled students must have a comparable level of intelligence to able-bodied students and would possess similar interview skills. So why are they struggling to get graduate jobs? There must still be some prejudice against disabled candidates.

After the success of the Paralympics and modern laws that have improved prospects for disabled people, it could be assumed that getting a job is just as achievable for them, regardless of the current economic climate. Job application forms may ask whether you have a disability and if there is anything they can do to accommodate you in an interview, but realistically, it seems that many are not willing to accommodate disabled applicants in the long-term.

Unfortunately, not that much can be done. The Equality Act, built upon in the last couple of years ensures that disabled people, as well as ethnic minorities, have equal opportunities in employment. The hope is that legislations like this will encourage companies and businesses to hire candidates based on their education, experience and interpersonal skills, rather than if they are able-bodied or not. Events like the Paralympics help promote awareness about disability and other marginalised groups so as time goes on, hopefully companies will see that disabled applicants, graduates or not, are worth employing too.

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