Closing the Disability Employment Gap in the UK: Utilising University-Industry Partnerships to Unlock Potential

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In the United Kingdom (UK), the Ulster University’s new Employability Programme has provided life-changing employment opportunities to young disabled graduates in Northern Ireland (NI). This paper will discuss the GradEmployNI - a creative and extremely successful 14-week online skill development programme delivered by Ulster University Business School. 25 young graduates with various visible and non-visible disabilities completed the programme. Seven of them have secured full-time jobs; fourteen have been offered work placement extensions that range from 8 to 12 months by local employers, and the rest are having interviews with Deloitte. Official statistics show that the employment rate for people with disabilities in the UK was just 52.7% as of 2021, compared with 81 per cent for non-disabled people. In Northern Ireland, opportunities seem to be even less favourable for this group as the employment rate for them is far lower at 38 per cent. The need for reducing the stubborn disability employment gap (i.e., the difference between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people) in the UK and the importance of university-industry partnership for better supporting disabled graduates in the labour market provide unique opportunities for business schools to make a difference to these students, particularly in the light of COVID-19 and its disproportionate impact on disabled people. This paper will describe the surprising success of Ulster University’s GradEmployNI programme. Details of this person-centered, partnership-based, coaching-integrated programme will be shared so that others may launch similar programmes in their universities and make a difference to disabled people.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Aug 2022
EventThe 14th Asian Conference on Education 2022 - Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP) at Osaka University, Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 24 Nov 20222 Dec 2022
Conference number: 14


ConferenceThe 14th Asian Conference on Education 2022
Abbreviated titleACE2022
Internet address


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