A woman using a wheelchair at a desk in a bright airy room. She is on the phone and has a laptop on the desk.
Image: © Drobot Dean/Stock.adobe.com

Free online entrepreneurship course aimed at people with disabilities

13 Jun 2022

Previous research from TU Dublin, which is running the course, found that Ireland has one of the lowest employment rates in the EU for people with disabilities.

TU Dublin is set to run a new entrepreneurship course aimed at people with disabilities. The free course will run online and is designed to address the additional barriers that people with disabilities can face when starting or running their own business.

Participants will leave the course with the skills and knowledge to become self-employed. Each participant will also receive a business mentor through the Local Enterprise Office network. People who are already running their own businesses are not eligible to apply as the programme is focused on pre-start-ups.

TU Dublin is running the new entrepreneurship programme in response to previous research at the technological university in 2020. Prof Thomas Cooney and his Canadian co-author found that Ireland had one of the lowest employment rates in the EU for people with disabilities.

The unemployment rate among people with disabilities in Ireland is 26.2pc, according to the most recent census data, more than double the 12.9pc rate for the population as a whole.

The TU Dublin research highlighted the role entrepreneurship could play in addressing the barriers people with disabilities may face in accessing employment. However, the last census found that just 52,115 people with disabilities in Ireland had their own businesses.

Cooney, who designed and will lead the programme, said that self-employment “helps people with disabilities to participate socially and economically”.

“It also allows them to choose their own hours or work remotely, providing more flexibility than can be found in paid employment. However, despite the benefits, there is limited awareness of self-employment as a career option for people with disabilities within their own community and within enterprise agencies and disability advocacy organisations.”

The new course will be launched at an event today (13 June) by the Open Doors Initiative. The Irish non-profit, which is a supporter of the programme, is holding a webinar about entrepreneurship for people with disabilities.

Other organisations involved as supporters and partners are AIB, the Local Enterprise Office network, Disability Federation of Ireland, DoTheFinancials.com, Microfinance Ireland and SimVenture.

Applications are currently open for the programme. It is free to complete and commences on 21 September, running for 12 weeks. More information on how to apply can be found on TU Dublin’s website.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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