Roadmap Identifies Strategies and Solutions for Employers and Universities to Create Better Access to Job Opportunities for Recent Graduates with Disabilities
NEW YORK (April 25, 2023) – A new report released by the National Organization on Disability (NOD) and The Burton Blatt Institute finds employers reporting significant difficulties identifying and recruiting students and recent graduates with disabilities. At the same time, those students with disabilities are faced with challenges long before they even begin to look for work. These unfortunate circumstances were the motivation to launch NOD’s innovative Campus to Careers Demonstration Project.
The Campus to Careers Project, supported by lead funder The Coca-Cola Foundation, and in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Work Without Limits Initiative, has served as a living laboratory to test, to evaluate and share ideas and strategies among dozens of employers, universities, colleges, and students. The findings are now available in NOD’s Campus to Careers Roadmap. It provides practical recommendations, including checklists and video assets, for employers and universities to understand the challenges employers experience in engaging students with disabilities; the obstacles students with disabilities experience in transitioning into their chosen field; and the important role career and disability services play on campus. The Campus to Careers Roadmap can be downloaded free here.
“Recruiting college talent is becoming more competitive every year, and employers need a solid strategy to compete for skilled and diverse graduates,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “A productive recruitment strategy requires a dedicated commitment and can take some time to develop, but employers will see a return on investment by including people with disabilities who have incredible talent in their employment process.”
As part of this project, NOD and its partners met with college and university students who shared their job search and recruitment experiences which uncovered surprising realizations for students with disabilities. Some examples include:
- “Career services told me to go to a temp agency…they said that was the best I could do.”
- “What I immediately look for these days is screen reader accessibility. That’s usually an indication of the company’s commitment to equal opportunity employment.”
“Students with disabilities are an important asset to any organization,” said Felicia Nurmsen, managing director, employer services for NOD. “In addition to the skills all college graduates have, they bring intangible life experiences and attributes that are not immediately apparent on a typical college transcript. Our corporate partners have demonstrated a strong commitment to hiring well-qualified college students with disabilities, but it was apparent that these employers were still facing challenges identifying and recruiting people with disabilities. Our Campus to Careers Roadmap materials highlight the incredible talent that people with disabilities bring to the table and how to make them part of your team.”
As one University Director stated in the research, “There is a real fear on the part of our students. They have had negative experiences and may think ‘if my professor who I’m paying to be in their class is disrespectful to me, I’m certainly not going to say anything to an employer about my disability.’ Or ‘Why would I go into a position actively identifying myself as a person with a disability when I feel like that automatically makes me more vulnerable?’.”
“It is essential to create equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities to ensure everyone can contribute to society and demonstrate their talents”, said Saadia Madsbjerg, president of The Coca-Cola Foundation. “By partnering with NOD, The Coca-Cola Foundation is helping these individuals acquire the necessary skills and resources to be competitive in the job market. This collaboration is empowering students with disabilities as they transition into the workforce.”
“Partnering with NOD to develop the Campus to Careers pilot program was an important step in furthering our mission of equal employment for people with disabilities,” said Kathy Petkauskos, director of Work Without Limits, a program of ForHealth Consulting at UMass Chan Medical School. “Employers recognize the value of the program and are prepared to recruit and hire from a talented candidate pool. It is so important to work together to provide opportunities for employers to connect with job seekers, and NOD has opened pathways to employment with Campus to Careers that were not there otherwise.”
The Campus to Careers Demonstration Project was made possible by the generosity of The Boston Foundation, The Coca Cola Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Roosevelt Warm Springs Foundation, and The UPS Foundation.
The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to increase employment opportunities for working age Americans with disabilities who are not employed. To achieve this goal, NOD offers a suite of employment solutions, tailored to anticipate, and meet leading companies’ workforce needs. NOD has helped some of the world’s most recognized brands be more competitive in today’s global economy by building or enriching their disability inclusion programs. For more information about NOD and how its portfolio of professional services, Leadership Council and Employment Tracker™ can help your business, visit www.NOD.org.
About The Coca-Cola Foundation
Established in 1984, The Coca-Cola Foundation has invested more than $1.5 billion globally to protect the environment, empower women to thrive and to enhance the overall well-being of people and communities.
About Work Without Limits
Work Without Limits, a program of ForHealth Consulting at UMass Chan Medical School, is a network of employers, educational institutions, employment service providers, state and federal agencies, and individuals with disabilities and their family members. Through collaboration and partnership, our goal is to provide programs and services that increase employment for people with disabilities.
Steve Aaron | 717.554.8614 | [email protected]
Kim Lehman | 717.599.0891 | [email protected]