A council-led pilot project that has helped over 20 Croydon people with disabilities get jobs or work placements is set to become a regular fixture.
Last month Croydon Council held its first specialist jobs fair where 25 skilled applicants with physical, learning, autism or mental health disabilities networked with around 20 visiting employers who pitched their vacancies in the retail, tourism and care sectors.
Called a reverse jobs fair because the employers circulate around the room visiting candidates instead of the other way around, the event was designed to increase recruiters’ awareness of what the candidates can offer and to improve applicants’ job prospects.
The event at the Community Space at the council’s Bernard Weatherill House offices, which was opened by the Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor, has now led to:
• Four permanent jobs
• One apprenticeship offer
• One paid work placement
• Five work trials
• 14 offers of work experience
Now the council is planning a follow-up reverse jobs fair in June, as well as three disability awareness training days for local public and private sector employers that hire hundreds of local staff between them.
It was also announced at the reverse jobs fair that Croydon Council has now been granted the status of Disability-Confident Employer; the second level accreditation given by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to employers that recruit and retain people with disabilities.
The reverse jobs fair was organised by Croydon Council with support from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the DWP and the business and charitable sectors.
Robert Elston, chief executive of Status Employment, a specialist recruitment agency for people with severe and long-lasting mental health needs, said: “There was quite a buzz in the room, and it got the employers thinking because they had to sell themselves rather than the other way round. It was a great effort by Croydon Council – to get around 20 organisations in the room was hugely impressive; normally you are lucky if you get two or three.”
Councillor Jamie Audsley, deputy cabinet member for the economy and jobs, said:
“Fresh from the council helping over 50 people into jobs at Boxpark, this project is another example of how we are supporting Croydon residents into local employment.
“I’m really pleased that this reverse jobs fair was a success, and I look forward to us organising more events in 2017 that will continue to help borough residents with disabilities into work.”
Recruiters or disabled applicants wanting more information about future reverse jobs fairs can email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 726 6000 extension 13608.
For information about how companies can employ more people with disabilities, visit the British Association of Supported Employment website.
Case study – applicant
Terry Smith, who is partially paralysed with a condition called hemiplegia, gave a presentation to the event about the difficulties he had faced in finding work after 18 years working for the Metropolitan Police. As a result of the jobs fair, the 42-year-old from Thornton Heath starts a work placement in January based in Croydon Council’s mail room. He said: “It’s something to go on my CV and hopefully I’ll get a job at the end of it. Going to the jobs fair made it a more positive outcome for me.”
Case study – employer
Alan Wood, skills and employment manager at London Economic Development Company, took on an employee as a result of the event, who will spend a minimum of three months working on website development and social media marketing for a tour operator. He said: “There are many skills and abilities out there in people with disabilities, and it’s really a question of recognising that as an employer and capitalising on it.”