Empowering graduates and changing the perception of disability. How GradWISE is shifting the employment landscape.
GradWISE is a program developed by WISE Employment in conjunction with Australian Universities, with the purpose of empowering graduates living with a disability, mental, physical health condition or injury to thrive in graduate and entry level employment.
To learn more about GradWISE, Career Coach Grace Mackley explains how she started with the team, how the program empowers students and how the program has adjusted with the outbreak of COVID-19.
Grace joined the GradWISE team in September 2019. With a strong background in recruitment paired with volunteering within the community, she found herself looking for a role which combined her range of experience, interests and future degree in Humanitarian and Community Studies.
“I was attracted to working with GradWISE as it was an opportunity to utilise my experience in graduate recruitment, education and volunteering into one role, where I could give back to the community and help empower students to find a role related to their education and passion;” explains Grace.
The fact GradWISE was a newer program also gave Grace the opportunity to work with her teammates to find new, innovative ways of giving students the right tools and opportunities in the workforce.
A variety of these tools that are used to assist future and current graduates to gain meaningful employment can be seen throughout the GradWISE process. This includes identifying the strengths and passions of a candidate in order to create career paths to find relevant work experience.
The GradWISE team help these candidates every step of the way. Because every client is different, no two days are the same for Grace.
“Some days I will be on campus at University meeting with students; other days we will be running online educational Masterclasses; reaching out and meeting with employers; conducting Neurozone training (a fascinating Neuroscience tool to optimise the brain and body system); working on student’s resumes or helping students look and apply for different roles.”
The outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in the team needing to adapt to provide entirely virtual coaching methods and masterclasses with clients.
The Career Coaches job doesn’t end here. A large barrier faced by job seekers with disabilities can be the mindset of future employers and the benefits of inclusive workplaces. GradWISE work with their candidates to explore their abilities and requirements, finding the small adjustments they need to integrate seamlessly into the workplace.
An example of this includes a student Grace was working with over a six-month period. They were working together to help the candidate land a University placement needed to help the student finish their degree.
“We had a lot of struggles and push back from employers not being flexible with providing this student with the adjustments they required.”
Grace continued coaching this student, helping her gain confidence in their abilities. Together they came up with the adjustments needed for the candidate to perform the role they desired.
“We communicated with the employer and they changed their interview process to be more inclusive. The student performed really well, got the job and started working a week later.”
Although there have been challenges with diversity in workplaces in the past, Grace says the future is looking positive.
“There has been a big shift within diversity and companies are becoming aware of the benefits of hiring someone living with a disability or mental illness.”
Along with education and awareness, developments in technology will make the shift to an inclusive workplace achievable for more businesses.
“We plan to partner with more employers to continue helping more students, as well as utilising new technology to expand our reach and further develop the support we can provide to students.”
Overall, Grace is passionate about being a member of the GradWISE team and is looking forward to continuing in this field.
“The team I work with are great, and it’s really rewarding to come to work (or virtually come to work during the pandemic) with a group of people who are all so passionate about helping students and changing the landscape of diversity within this space.”