Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

The importance of inclusive recruitment practices

A learning disability charity has launched a new national alumni network as part of plans to get 10,000 young autistic people and people with a learning disability into work by 2030.

The network has been launched by DFN Project SEARCH, a charity which runs a one-year transition to work programme for young autistic adults and young adults with a learning disability.

It will be led by the charity’s Youth Advisory Group, which comprises of young people who are currently undertaking a sponsored internship and those who have completed such internships in recent years.

These supported internships are open to 16-24-year-olds with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), who also have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Nothing about us without us

The Youth Advisory Group will speak to employers, educators, families and support service providers to give them a better understanding of their needs for skills and adjustments, empowering young people who want to positively influence recruitment practices.

It will also young people with an opportunity to stay connected and share experiences with each other.

Harry Georgiou, who has joined the team as a Youth Advisory Assistant, says he is “incredibly excited” to be leading the programme.

He said: “Young people should have a say in decisions that affect their lives and their careers, whether they have a learning disability or not. That’s why ‘nothing about us without us’ is at the heart of the YAG programme and the alumni network.

“Alongside our Youth Advisory Group, we will be speaking to employers, educators, families and support service providers to give them a better understanding of our skills and the need for adjustments.

“I know that with a bit of training and support, the network will become great advocates of inclusive employment and bust myths about disabled workers. I can’t wait to get started.”

‘The future of the Inclusion Revolution’

The DFN Project SEARCH Youth Advisory Group and Alumni Network commits to:

  • Creating a safe, accessible space where young people can exchange ideas and improve their skills to become spokespeople for their peers, in their communities and in wider public debate.
  • Busting myths about learning disability and showcasing how young people who undertake supported internships can go on to become valuable employees and members of their community.
  • Improving the quality and accessibility of transition-to-work services by including the voices of young people in the creation and reform of these services.

Claire Cookson, CEO of DFN Project SEARCH, says she firmly believes the new Youth Advisory Group and its alumni will be the “future of the Inclusion Revolution.”

“All we need to do is listen to them, give them the tools they need and let them drive,” she said.

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