On Wednesday, 30th November, Dublin City University hosted ‘Teams that Thrive,’ a special event to mark the launch of DCU Access to the Workplace 2023. Speakers at the event included fashion designer and Founder of WorkEqual, Sonya Lennon, and Dublin senior footballer and People and Change Manager at KPMG, Jonny Cooper, together with companies and students who took part in Access to the Workplace in 2022.
DCU Access to the Workplace provides professional summer internships to level the playing field for student groups that experience disadvantage in the workplace following graduation. Since 2019, the programme has provided 245 internships for DCU Access students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and for neurodivergent students. The internships were hosted by 82 partner companies, who also make a donation to support Access scholarships at DCU.
Following the programme’s recent success in winning the prestigious international Times Higher Education Widening Participation Initiative of the Year Award for 2022, it is now seeking new partner companies to enable it to offer 130 student internships in 2023.
Attendees at Teams that Thrive heard how taking part in DCU Access to the Workplace can help employers to access talent and build diverse teams, with benefits for people, business and society. Speaking during a panel session at the event, Aisling Ryan, HR Business Partner with Maples Group and DCU students Ben McQuaid and Emilia Lekki described their experiences of taking part in Access to the Workplace in 2022. Aisling Ryan spoke positively about the experience of Maples Group and encouraged other companies to consider taking part, stating:
“We have had two students over the last few years who have come in and performed really well, who have had an opportunity that they might not necessarily have had, and are almost now a baseline in terms of what we expect from other students and other graduates.”
Speaking at the event, Cathy McLoughlin, Head of DCU’s Access Service said:
“DCU Access to the Workplace looks beyond university and aims to level the playing field for student groups who we know experience disadvantage in the workplace following graduation. We know that students from disadvantaged communities will earn significantly less per annum than a peer from a more affluent area who graduates with the same degree and grades, while up to 80% of autistic adults are unemployed or underemployed. Access to the Workplace is a vital support to help these student groups achieve equal employment outcomes after graduation.”
Speaking at the event, Joe Quinsey, CEO of DCU Educational Trust stated:
“Last year, we were delighted to place 93 DCU students and we are aiming to increase this to 130 internships in 2023. This would not be possible without the support of our incredible partner companies. 93% of students told us that they could not have secured a similar quality placement through their own networks. However, after taking part most students feel they have improved their social capital, are on a level playing pitch and feel as empowered as their more socially advantaged peers, this is a really important dimension that our partners bring to bear.”
Companies who are interested in taking part in DCU Access to the Workplace must sign up before February 2023. For further information, visit www.dcu.ie/accesstotheworkplace.
If you missed the event, you can click on the links below to hear more from our speakers: