Out of time: (Re)working disabled graduate employability
AbstractAs interest in disability employment increases across the world following the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding the employability of disabled graduates becomes an imperative for governments, universities and employers alike. This article investigates employability through the lens of the lived experience of disabled graduates, with one author (Alexandra) serving as a case study. Alexandra’s experience in higher education has been defined by living in crip time, a unique disabled experience of time as non-linear. Alexandra’s story describes how surviving within institutions which operate on normative understandings of time as linear, chronological, and inextricably tied to productivity has caused harm to disabled students. Disabled students are made to feel as though they are ‘falling behind time,’ ‘wasting time,’ and ‘losing time,’ resulting in a struggle to ‘catch up time,’ which impacts upon their wellbeing, confidence, and their sense of self. This struggle disadvantages disabled students from spending time building their ‘employability skills’ throughout their degree. As disabled students complete their studies and seek graduate employment, they come into further contact with industry who further compound harm through placement experiences and the graduate hiring process by not accommodating for crip time. This case study poses conventional mentoring programmes as a site in which disabled students such as Alexandra face barriers to engagement. We argue for a co-designed model of accessible, non-hierarchical peer mentoring, where crip time is accommodated and supported. Such accessible mentoring may serve as an effective intervention and an opportunity for disabled students to develop essential employability skills.
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