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Universities & Employers: Creating Productive Partnerships

Hang over time

Graduate Recruiter’s Disability Café 9 (GR’9)
Creating productive partnerships to support disabled students into graduate jobs.
Hosted by Citi

> view the executive summary
> Citi presentation
> Warwick University presentation

Graduate recruiters are not expected to be disability experts however they do need to understand this target audience if they are to engage with them and encourage them to apply to their graduate programmes. By working with university Careers Services and Disability Services they are able to gain great insight into how best to promote graduate opportunities to disabled students. These university departments know and understand their students’ unique needs, offering an opportunity to develop tailored recruitment strategies to pique students’ interest and raise a company’s profile among all students. The ninth Disability Café centred on how recruiters and universities can most effectively work together to support disabled students into meaningful employment.

On 6th March, 2013, Citi hosted the ninth Disability Café which was attended by over 50 key stakeholders. Delegates included recruiters from a range of companies, along with numerous university Careers Services and Disability Services representatives, and a number of disabled students and recent graduates.

Emma Cashmore, Diversity Head at Citi, welcomed delegates and outlined the goals for the day: to learn from each other and develop best practice regarding relations with university services. Helen Cooke, Director of My Plus Consulting, developed these goals, emphasising how university services can help build confidence and expertise, progressing disability agendas. Helen also enlightened the delegates about the unique format that the Café would take in order to ensure productive conversations are facilitated.

The first half of the Café focused on what support graduate recruiters needed form university careers advisers and disability mangers in order to help them to engage with disabled students. Gemma O’Keefe, Head of Graduate Recruitment at Citi, was the key note speaker and talked about Citi’s current graduate recruitment strategies, the work they have done in the area of disability and the key areas that they would like support in from universities.

Following Gemma’s presentation delegates discussed what employers wanted and needed from university Careers Services and Disability Services. Key requirements included with key ideas including a single designated contact, being accurately represented and a better understanding of the student population.

After a short break delegates heard from Catherine Alexander, Careers Advisor at University of Cambridge, and Kathryn Fisher, Disability Co-ordinator at Warwick University, who both provided insights into what university services want from employers. Their wish lists included case studies, specific employer contacts for disabled students, and flexible recruitment strategies.

Considering these two presentations, delegates again participated in small group discussions to develop the discussions around what universities want from employers to help disabled students looking for careers. Ideas included improving intra-firm relationships between the recruitment team and diversity team, avoiding generic statements about diversity, and providing role models for disabled students.

Feedback from this Disability Café was overwhelmingly positive with delegates enjoying the interactive small group discussions and insights gained from each other. The outputs from this café are going to be used as the basis of formulating best practice around how universities and graduate recruiters can most effectively work together going forward.

Thanks to Citi for hosting this Café event.