Engaging University Students with AND Programs

Australian Network on Disability (AND) runs two programs that connect students with disability to employers, Stepping Into Internships and PACE Mentoring

Why it matters

“When university careers services can find ways of supporting students’ engagement with PACE Mentoring and Stepping Into internship programs, then students with disability are being given real chances to develop their employability” said David Eckstein, 2020 Equity Fellow with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, and AccessAbility Careers Hub Coordinator, Swinburne University. 

Graduate employment is an important outcome for all universities. As of 2018, there were approximately 55,000 university students who identified as having a disability in Australia, or 6.9% of the overall cohort [1]. We know that university graduates with disability are 30% less likely to be employed than graduates without disability. Supporting students with disability to develop employability skills and gain employment is important to achieving overall career outcomes for universities.

Employability Outcomes of AND Programs

AND programs are an effective step to employment for many participants. 80% of students with a disability who completed a Stepping Into internship had secured work related to their industry of choice, within 4 months of graduation. This is compared to 67% of students who had completed a non-Stepping Into internship, and 58% of students who had completed no internship. [2]

In 2019, PACE Mentoring participants reported an improvement in employability skills. Most notably, participants reported an average 57% improvement in their awareness of different employment pathways available, and 48% improvement in their confidence with job interviews.[2]

 

. 80% of students with a disability who completed a Stepping Into internship had secured work related to their industry of choice, within 4 months of graduation. This is compared to 67% of students who had completed a non-Stepping Into internship, and 58% of students who had completed no internship.

University services are one of the best ways of engaging students with AND programs

University Disability Services, Career services and Careers Fairs are the main ways that students find out about AND’s programs. Students who participate in AND’s programs build their work experience, industry connections and employability skills. Disability and Careers Services are the best ways of engaging students with the programs.

To encourage more university services to promote AND programs to their students, we interviewed some of the universities that have the most successful engagement with the programs, to find out how they go about promoting AND’s programs. Below is intended as a starting point but is by no means exhaustive. We welcome suggestions of other ways that AND and universities can work together to ensure all students who are eligible for these great opportunities know about them.

What universities can do to promote AND programs:

  • Offer multiple modes of engagement. Emails, social media and online information, webinars (AND runs free information webinars for both programs), and face-to-face information helps students engage with these opportunities.
  • Organise information sessions or career workshops to coincide with program application periods.
  • Incorporate AND program dates into your annual plan, so that all team members are across these dates.
  • Consider working with other teams in your promotions. Some Careers and Disability services teams work together to discuss how both teams are promoting the programs.
  • Broaden promotions of AND’s programs to students who aren’t necessarily registered with Disability/Accessibility services. Not all students who are eligible for our programs may be registered with disability services. Some universities send out communications about AND’s programs, explaining eligibility criteria and encouraging applications to anyone who is eligible. That may also prompt students to link with disability/accessibility services for additional support.
  • Email communications: Regular emails with application steps and timing are very helpful for students. A list of the available internship opportunities catches students’ attention and can also be posted on a blog or careers board.  
  • Share AND resources. The AND website has a number of useful factsheets around sharing disability information and other job seeker tools. Careers staff have also recommended students look at the list of AND member organisations when considering which organisations to apply for grad positions and/or ongoing employment opportunities.

What AND can do to support universities in this promotion:

  • AND’s presence on campus really helps engage with students. We can come to careers fairs, speak at panels, or run information sessions for students or staff.
  • Connect university teams with past participants in AND programs. In the past, we have seen university students speak to their peers about their experience in our programs.
  • Provide a list of key dates for programs, as well as regular email updates and social media links. Subscribe to our Mailing List for regular updates.
  • Provide statistics and updates on numbers of students applying and successful for programs.
  • Answer student and staff queries directly – we are always happy to talk about our programs! Feel free to get in touch with the team via email: applications@and.org.au or phone: 02 8270 9200.

 


[1] Australian Disability ClearingHouse on Education and Training, Higher Education Statistics 2019, viewed 18 March 2020.  

[2] 2018 WestWood Spice and AND survey to 2014-18 Stepping Into interns and applicants, viewed 10 March 2020.