The road to employment: Trinity College’s programme for people with intellectual disabilities – Inclusion Europe Radio

Inclusion Europe organised an online presentation on Thursday 15 June to learn more about the programme. Now you can listen to the podcast episode

Trinity College's programme for people with intellectual disabilities - Inclusion Europe Radio

The Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID) is situated within the School of Education in Trinity College Dublin. They provide a post-secondary University programme for students with intellectual disabilities. The core mission of the TCPID is to address the significant educational and societal barriers experienced by people with intellectual disabilities by providing an innovative high-quality higher education programme, enabling the transition to meaningful employment and/or further education after graduation.

Real and meaningful employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities are transforming lives – the life of the person themselves, the lives of their families, the lives of the mentors and teams within the businesses and the lives of the wider community. Having people of all abilities in the workplace helps to create a greater reflection of the world around us and helps to encourage greater inclusion in all aspects of society.

Inclusion Europe organised an online presentation on Thursday 15 June to learn more about the programme. Now you can listen to the podcast episode here.


2:00 Introductions

Marie Devitt (TCPID Employment Pathways Coordinator) and Hugo MacNeill (TCPID Ambassador) gave an overview of their innovative TCPID programme and their partnerships with businesses. Sadbh Feehan (TCPID Graduate Intern) talked about her own experiences, as a student in Trinity College Dublin and more recently as a graduate intern.


3:17 Programme description

Two year certificate program full-time for the two years. Persons with intellectual disabilities can study 17 modules across a broad range of topics and subjects. So they do a set of subjects in the arts, poetry, film studies, expressive arts, disability rights, human rights. There is also a big focus on business subjects like entrepreneurship or marketing. The idea of the broad range of subjects is to help the students to grow and explore what areas they enjoy the most within the educational program. It’s also about having the full student experience.


4:23 Internships, new programme and graduation

Two, six months paid internships with progression support for the students. The programme takes about 10 students per yea. They had 48 students who have graduated from the program.


5:40 Business partners

Ultimate goal for everybody is permanent employment, and every new placement with one of the 45 partners at the moment, transforms the lives of the student. It transforms the lives of their families. Everyone cares about the students taking the course and the internship and they’re seeing them reach their full potential.


9:20 Variety of programmes and value to partners students and society

The range of companies allows us to give choice to the young people about the type of industries they might be interested in. Their ambition is that every, educational institution in Ireland would think about putting in the certain similar program and that every company of a certain size would ask themselves the question, could we take on a student with intellectual disabilities.


11:35 Student work placement

Part of the core curriculum that takes place in February and March each year. Eight weeks and the students go out for one morning a week with one of their business partners.


12:10 Graduate internship programme

Six month paid internship for up to 20 hours a week. And the key with that is that it’s a real meaningful job that is adding value to the team. They work with the companies to design and suit the skills of the individual.


13:21 College team and mentor training

A small team of 10 dealing with a small cohort of students, but very, very in-depth supports for every single student and every single partner. They have a program of online mentor training for the business partners that they all have access to, which gives them advice and how to structure the tasks, and communicate with individuals.


17:24 Feedback and success of the programme


” We have 10 students in each year, we 46 graduates who’ve gone through, we know the model works. Many stories of parents bringing students long distances to attend our center. That’s what you do if your child is has an intellectual disability and has the capacity to show an extraordinary ability as well. Our goal would be to try and reverse this trend and have more and more third level colleges in Ireland doing the programs. The goal is to transform the lives of these young people and their families.” Hugo MacNeill


“..all the other graduates have really worked hard. They have such a great work ethic, such determined and incredible young people who we are just giving the opportunity to. But it’s up to them and they’re the ones who have achieved all this.” Marie Devitt


20:51 Working with the Government of Ireland

The government has recently announced an incredible funding initiative of 12 million euro over three years on a competitive basis, specifically for students with intellectual disabilities to have courses for them within universities.


22:32 Story of a student, graduate intern


“The environment, the freedom to be myself, friendships I made is my favourite thing. More confidence and independence, I got to know myself a lot more. Being in college, it definitely helped me to be more free, to be myself, to be able to wear what I want and do other things and the friendships I made. When I did the course that I’ve met people who I’ve wouldn’t really normally talk to. And my happiest memory during, my time in Trinity was definitely the graduation day.” Sadbh Feehan


28:29 First internship experience


“We need to make the hours more accessible for persons with disabilities, because more often time, more often than not, the, the the society’s run very late into the evening or very late into the day, and the students wouldn’t get that same opportunity to take part.  And, and I think that’s very important for them because they’re in such a a small group, they don’t really get to meet new people.” Sadbh Feehan


“So the impact impact on me having a job has given me, you know, a sense of pride. I never thought of myself going to college or anything like that because when I finished school I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college. I went to a day service. But now it definitely increased my confidence in myself to know that, look, I can do this. That I’ve been given this opportunity and I’m going to do my best to to continue. You may know how much you are capable of doing, but you know, people think that, like you can only just bare minimum.” Sadbh Feehan


“It is ultimately about changing attitudes and changing people’s lives and opportunities and, you know, creating this sense of, of incredible ability. Sadbh talked about her own experience so eloquently, but she is one of 48 amazing graduates that are all full of ability. We’re trying to harness that and get them set up for life.” Marie Devitt


41:04 If employees were reluctant to give young people with disabilities a chance, what would you say to those employers?


“I would say to do your research and see what that person would be able for, see what their skill level is, and then work on that. They’re capable of doing so much more than just certain basic, basic tasks.  They have to actually build a relationship with that person to see how they would work in a certain environment. But if you focus on the ability, focus on the things that the person can do, then that’s what makes you know it more. That makes it brilliant, that person can go on to do great things and to inspire more people. And also increase their confidence and their independence as well. So I think that’s very important for especially people with an intellectual disability to be able to work in a professional environment and be who they are and be their best self.” Sadbh Feehan


44:01 Economic point of view, these are young people who are paying tax


“An important thing to say is, we forgot to say is that, you know, these are taxpayers. Now these are young people who are paying tax. Trying to give lots of opportunities for people to continue their education and to then become a taxpayer and ultimately save the government money in the long term, really make a contribution to society. Because what you saved on daycare centers is huge. It’s not just an ethically right thing to do. It’s economically compelling.” Marie Devitt

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