Stephen and Timmy, who are supported by Cope Foundation, and Job Coach Noelle Twohig who all took part in the Job Shadow Initiative last year. Photo: Ian Fleming

70 take part in job shadow initiative

“Everyone has the right to have a job. It’s a basic human right.”

Those were the words of Marian Hennessy, Ability@Work Coordinator as she yesterday, Wednesday, explained why the Cope Foundation’s Job Shadow Initiative is such an important campaign to promote equal, and inclusive employment opportunities in the workplace.

Last year, more than 70 people took part in Cope Foundation’s Job Shadow Initiative and 9 people were offered paid work after one day. The job seekers are supported by a mentor in the workplace they visit and learn what happens during a normal working day.

The initiative is designed to give people with disabilities a unique opportunity to experience life in the workplace, learn about the requirements of the job and the expectations of employers. It’s an opportunity for companies to see the talent represented by job seekers with disabilities and how these workers can meet their staffing needs.

Cope Foundation supports 2,800 people with an intellectual disability and/or autism to live a life of their choosing. Cope Foundation is encouraging as many Cork employers as possible to take part in Job Shadow 2023. There is a strong focus on job shadowing during April however, employers can participate at any time of the year.

Marian said the project “helps to break down misconceptions and negative attitudes about people’s abilities. Participants have so many positive experiences, discovering how to compete and succeed in today’s workplace. Last year nine people were offered paid jobs after just one day. Overall, over 70 people took part. We are asking employers in Cork to continue to show their support for people with different abilities, and to be open to the possibilities of real inclusion when recruiting staff. We see more and more Cork companies actively encouraging diversity in the workplace.”

Jamie took part in Job Shadow previously. He said: “I really enjoyed taking part in the job shadow day in McDonalds. I love going out meeting new people. My boss got to see how I work. After that I was offered work experience, and then when that finished they offered me a job. I now work 20 hours per week. I love my job and I work with a great team of people, I feel I really belong there.”

Jamie took part in the Job Shadow project.

Aishling Ronayne, McDonald’s Business Manager said: “Jamie has been an integral part of our team since joining us, so much so that all of the managers voted for him to win employee of the month for October. The training and qualifications that Jamie came to us with were outstanding, coupled with the support we got from his job coach. We are delighted to work with Ability@Work and look forward to welcoming more job seekers from the programme in the near future. I would encourage other workplaces to get involved in the Job Shadow Initiative as it’s a fantastic experience for everyone involved.”