What Barriers do Deaf Undergraduates face in acquiring Employability Skills in Higher Education? :

Barnes, Lynne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4504-7139 (2019) What Barriers do Deaf Undergraduates face in acquiring Employability Skills in Higher Education? :. The Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education, Winter (11.2). pp. 118-138. ISSN 1759-2224

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This article explores the lived experiences of deaf undergraduates’ acquisition of employability skills whilst at university, as reported through a series of semi-structured one to one interviews. In particular, this report focuses on the specific themes of generic skills, emotional intelligence, communication skills, career development learning and work experience. Data provided by the interviewees shows that whilst some of the generic skills were easily attainable, other significant career development learning and job-seeking skills are more difficult for deaf students to acquire. It is evident that the acquisition of these skills is also hampered by a lack of tutor and/or peer awareness and support. This study also discusses the importance of work placement opportunities for gaining employment, and how various barriers preclude many deaf students from gaining this experience. Not least of these is the lack of funding – either from Access to Work (ATW) or Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) – which would facilitate the employment of interpreters in the voluntary work sector. In light of the increasing number of disabled students failing to find employment upon graduation (AGCAS, 2018) it is imperative that measures are taken to break down the barriers which prevent deaf students from gaining the skills and experiences which would enable them to more readily secure employment. Unless and until this is done, deaf university students will still not be able to gain the maximum benefit from the increased opportunities available to them from undergraduate study.

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