Close-up of a man's hand holding the wheel of his wheelchair as he enters an office.
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TU Dublin launches entrepreneurship course for people with disabilities

23 Sep 2021

The course is being funded by a new initiative, Towards Work, which is aimed at supporting further education and employment for people with disabilities.

TU Dublin has launched a new entrepreneurship and self-employment course aimed at people with disabilities.

The course is funded by Towards Work, which is a new resource to help support people with disabilities looking for further education and employment opportunities. It will support 25 participants on the course who are looking to start their own business.

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Towards Work was launched today (23 September). It is part of the Open Doors Initiative, a network of NGOs looking to improve access to the workplace in Ireland for marginalised members of society.

It comes following a report on the lack of accessibility in Ireland’s labour market released by the OECD yesterday. The report claimed that Ireland was one of the worst countries in the EU for people with disabilities to work in.

According to the report, only one-third of people with a disability here have a job. However, the OECD said many people would like to work if the right support measures were in place.

Towards Work coordinator Claire Hayes said: “According to the latest study by the OECD, people with disabilities still face a major gap when it comes to employment and education opportunities. This report, to which the Open Doors Initiative contributed, has highlighted the need for further supports for people with disabilities.”

The OECD called on the Irish Government to provide supports to employers and workers with disabilities so workplaces can be made safer and more accessible for everyone. Among the recommendations made by the OECD was better access to training programmes for people with disabilities.

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disability Anne Rabbitte, TD, launched the Towards Work initiative at an event today.

It featured a panel of speakers who discussed their experiences of finding work, accessing education and starting their own businesses as people with disabilities. This included campaigner and local councillor Carly Bailey, accessibility expert and tech entrepreneur Stephen Cluskey, mental health writer and activist Blessing Dada, and author and motivation speaker Tracey McCann.

In March of this year, the Government launched Employers for Change, which focused on giving companies information and advice to hire inclusively and employ, manage and retain staff with disabilities. It will now work with Towards Work to support people with disabilities as well as the employers who want to hire them.

Hayes added that Towards Work will provide “free practical training, resources and bespoke mentorship opportunities”.

“Exclusion from employment, further education and lack of opportunity within the entrepreneur world leads to social isolation and a serious threat of poverty. Towards Work is here to support and empower people with disabilities on their journey with practical training sessions and mentor opportunities,” she concluded.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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