A council-run Croydon event for local businesses to hire applicants with disabilities returns in October.
The Reverse Jobs Fair, which is open to applicants with disabilities looking for everything from a permanent post to a temporary work placement, returns from 10.30am-12.30pm on Wednesday 11 October, and will be held at Croydon College.
Last September Croydon Council held its first of these specialist jobs fairs, where 25 skilled applicants with physical, learning, autism or mental health disabilities networked with around 20 visiting employers who pitched their vacancies in the retail, tourism and care sectors.
This year’s event already has over 30 interested businesses from sectors ranging from retail and construction to catering and transport.
Called a reverse jobs fair because employers circulate around the room visiting candidates instead of the other way around, the event is designed to increase recruiters’ awareness of what the candidates can offer and to improve applicants’ job prospects. The reverse jobs fair also means prospective employers have already read applicants’ CVs and know about their disabilities before they meet.
Last year’s event led to four permanent jobs, one apprenticeship offer, one paid work placement, five work trials and 14 offers of work experience. One person to benefit was Bianca Maguire, who has worked ever since for George Street-based London Economic Development Company; first as a work placement and now permanently for 16 flexible hours a week as a project manager working on the business’s eastern European tours.
Born with cystic fibrosis, the 28-year-old had previously left a long-term job in west London after a period of poor health, and had then found some employers hesitant to take her on before she was referred to the Reverse Jobs Fair. Bianca said: “Anyone with a disability should go because it’s a really friendly atmosphere – everyone that comes up to you is already interested and it’s a confidence boost, so it’s definitely worth going along and seeing what happens. It worked for me, so I’m sure it will work for other people as well.”
Alan Wood, employment and skills manager at London Economic Development Company, described Bianca as an “enthusiastic and bright team player”, and added his company will return to this year’s event to look for other possible work placements.
“I’d urge as many Croydon businesses as possible to sign up for this year’s event, and I look forward to hearing even more success stories.”
Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for economy and jobs
Recruiters or disabled applicants wanting more information can email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8726 6000 extension 13608.
For information about how companies can employ more people with disabilities, visit the British Association of Supported Employment website.
The reverse jobs fair is organised by Croydon Council with support from Status Employment, Mind in Croydon, the Department for Work and Pensions and the business and charitable sectors.