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BUSINESSES across the UK are being urged to take on more disabled graduates.

Leading employers, including Barclays, Standard Life and SABMiller, are calling for more companies to join Change100, a programme that provides three-months’ paid work placements for talented disabled students from leading universities.

Research from the Department for Work and Pensions shows that just over half (54%) of working-age disabled people are currently not in work, compared to 24% of working-age non-disabled people.
By launching the Change100 programme Leonard Cheshire Disability aims to address the under-representation of disabled people in the workplace.

Ollie Roberts, HR director at SABMiller, said: “We have been delighted with the quality of candidates and the value they have brought to the organisation. We think the programme is a great success and look forward to a long relationship with Change100.”

Sophie Stowell is one of the students whose career has taken off following her Change100 placement. The 21-year-old has landed a place on the Barclays graduate scheme and credits Leonard Cheshire with kick-starting her career.

Payal Jain, Sophie’s manager, said: “My advice to any business considering being part of the Change100 programme would be to go for it – it’s that simple. It’s really valuable not only for the individual participants themselves, who get real hands-on experience of working in a busy commercial environment, but also in raising awareness amongst organisations and employers of the talents that candidates of all abilities can bring to business.”

Andrea Goldie, at Standard Life, also appreciates the benefits of being involved in the programme. She said: “Standard Life joined Change 100 as part of our commitment to having a diverse workforce and supporting the development of skills and talent.

“Being involved is not only helping us to support people with disabilities in their careers, it has enabled us to reach a high calibre of candidates and brought fresh insight and skills to our business. There have been some real benefits and it has been a very positive experience all round.”

Gemma Bull, managing director of enterprise and innovation at Leonard Cheshire Disability, added: “It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, we want to hear from you.

“Change100 gives employers the opportunity to harness the skills of high-flying disabled students. They could be our country’s future leaders or entrepreneurs if they are given the chance. It is a unique opportunity for employers to boost their business and change the employment landscape for disabled people.”

To find out more visit: www.leonardcheshire.org.uk/change100