Degree level study can be a challenge for any student, and in a competitive job market, students often also need relevant work experience. When you have health issues or other potential challenges you may want some extra advice and support. We can help you develop a strategy to make sure you get the most from your time at university, and find out about support available through employment schemes, agencies and grants. It's never too early to start exploring ways you can build your skills and experience.
Getting Skills and Experience
During your time at university you will have lots of opportunities to get involved in activities that can enhance your skills and boost your confidence. Examples include career mentoring, volunteering, and options to work while you study
Positive Employers and Diversity Programmes
Some employers are part of the Disability Confident Scheme. This scheme has three levels of commitment (3 being the highest) and replaces the 'Two Ticks' scheme. These employers have made commitments to employing disabled people e.g. Some employers with the Level 2 commitment give a guaranteed job interview if you meet the essential requirements of the job. See the current list employers that are signed up.
Diversity or Positive action / inclusion schemes offer targeted support to encourage disabled students and graduates to apply for placements, internships, work experience and employment. Here are some examples of such schemes with individual employers:
Finding Positive Employers
Companies might choose to show their support to diversity by signing up to specific charters or advertising through websites aimed at people with disabilities. Disability Confident is a government scheme which employers can sign up to and it has replaced the 'two tick' scheme. Business Disability Forum members have been awarded the 'Diversity Standard'. Mindful Employers supports people with a mental health condition to find or retain employment.
Disclosing your disability is a personal decision. It isn't always easy to disclose to new people, but the careers service can offer advice and support. Remember that you have rights under the Equality Act and employers must treat you fairly. If you decide to disclose your disability you have the opportunity to present it positively, highlight your strengths, suggest what challenges you have already overcome and discuss any adjustments you might need to do your job effectively. See our Starting Points: Mental health and Employment help sheet (PDF, 402.7KB) about disclosing mental health condition.
Speakers talking about 'disclosure' who have attended the Careers and Employability Service:
It is often difficult to be sure whether you have definitely experienced discrimination. You may be questioning whether your recruitment outcome has been as a result of your skills and experience or because of your disability / medical condition. The Equality Act makes it clear that there are certain questions an employer is not allowed to ask in a job interview and that it is also their legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments where needed. Acas and The Equality Advisory Service are two organisations in addition to citizens advice that can help you determine whether you have a legal case to take to an employment tribunal.
If you want to build your interview skills and confidence, then you may find it helpful to book an appointment with SHU Careers Connect. Once you have an interview date, you can also book a 'practice interview' by giving us a call (0114 225 3752). You can also check out our Interviews page.
If you experience interview anxiety, then why not check out our video which is all about 'managing interview anxiety' and was created as part of the Mind Talk webinar series for students with mental health difficulties.
For students on the autistic spectrum, we've put together an online guide for you.
Two funds that are known to be available for students with disabilities is the motability operations scholarship programme for undergraduates and the snowdon trust scholarships for future leaders applying for postgraduate study.
Access to Work
This is a government funded grant which provides flexible and individually tailored support to allow disabled people to compete on equal terms in the workplace. It can provide the following types of support:
- communication support / personal support at job interview
- adaptations to equipment or premises
- costs of travel if unable to use public transport
- workplace personal assistant or coach to help you in the workplace
- support service if you have a mental health condition
To be eligible for the grant, you must be 16 or over and either:
- about to start employment
- in a paid job or self employed (does not include voluntary work or unpaid placement)
You can find out more on the Access to Work website. You need to apply via the website to a central government department or by phone / text phone. In order to make an application you would need to disclose your disability to an employer.
Local Support Agencies
Jobcentre Plus employ work coaches and specialist advisers who can offer:
- support to any disabled person in or out of work - including disabled graduates looking for work
- disabled students looking for part-time work or work experience
- support to sustain employment
advice on Access to Work and range of other programmes
- advocacy, advice, occupational assessments
Current Jobcentre Plus programmes include the work-health-programme
Other local agencies include:
- Disability Sheffield - an advisory and information service. Supports all people residing in Sheffield
- Remploy - provides specialist employment support (referral through the advisers at the job centre) - tel. 0300 456 8020