News: Fully Funded PhD Opportunity.

In collaboration with Cardiff University Business School and Disability Wales, the DRILL Programme is delighted to announce a fully funded PhD opportunity to research ‘What Works in Wales?

Developing an evidence base to inform a kitemark for employers to address the disability employment gap’. The aim of the project is to identify an evidence base of ‘what works’ for disabled people in employment, to contribute to the creation of a Disability Standard for employers.

Forming part of the DRILL legacy, the student will work with DRILL partner organisation, Disability Wales during the PhD to develop an evidence base to address the disability employment gap. This three- or four-year PhD studentship is funded jointly by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Cardiff University Business School.

Background DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) is an innovative five-year UK-wide programme led by disabled people, for disabled people and funded by the Big Lottery Fund (BLF). Launched in 2015, DRILL will conclude in August 2020. The Programme is a four-nation project, led by Disability Action NI in partnership with Disability Wales, Disability Rights UK and Inclusion Scotland.

DRILL promotes coproduction and collaboration between disabled people and their organisations, academia, research bodies and policy makers. This collaboration between DRILL, Disability Wales and Cardiff University is one example of the growing connections between disabled people’s organisations and universities throughout the course of the DRILL Programme.

To date the programme has funded 32 diverse, coproduced research and pilot projects across the UK. Several DRILL-funded projects have explored issues directly relating to the employment of disabled people, including the following:

Barriers and enablers to employment: Black disabled people living with Sickle Cell Disorders (SCD) (led by De Montfort University)

Legally Disabled (led by Cardiff University)

Getting On and Staying On (led by Sheffield Occupational Health Advisory Service)

The Bridge: Changing attitudes and communities by turning skills and experience into earnings for self-advocacy organisations and self-advocates (led by Barod CIC).

Research and pilot projects, such as these, have enabled disabled people to have a direct influence on decisions that impact on their independent living, particularly in relation to policies, legislation and services.

PhD project aims and methods This PhD research is in collaboration with DRILL, Disability Wales and Cardiff University Business School. The student will work with Disability Wales during the PhD to develop an evidence base to address the disability employment gap in Wales.

In June 2018, Disability Wales Chief Executive Rhian Davies was a keynote speaker at a launch event organised by the Learning and Work Institute Cymru and the Welsh Government. This made 6 recommendations: one was to ‘develop a Wales Disability Standard’: a kitemark for employers to be part of the Welsh Government ‘Employability Action Plan’, which the student, in collaboration with DRILL and Disability Wales, will help develop.

Much existing research on the disability employment gap concentrates on the number of disabled people out of work, often driving the short term political objective of getting disabled people off benefits and into any kind of work and overlooking the importance of job quality and careers.

Building on DRILL-funded research from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, this project aims to highlight what disabled people themselves regard as best practice in employment.

The research will focus on 3 key questions: 1. How can findings from the DRILL programme, which used co-production as a research methodology and provides unprecedented insights into disabled people’s experiences of society, the economy and polity, inform employment policies and practice? 2. What factors contribute to the persistent disability employment gap in Wales? 3. What already works for disabled people in employment and how could future initiatives build on existing initiatives/practice to inform the development of a Welsh standard for employers?

Stage one will involve a secondary analysis of relevant data from DRILL projects – using data archived at the UK Data Service – alongside a documentary analysis of regional sources to develop an understanding of the Welsh context.

Stage two will develop ‘profiles’ of good practice, drawn from regional, national or international examples of organisations, occupations, or successful social policy or third sector initiatives. Creating ‘profiles’ will entail interviewing key actors and stakeholders as well as evaluating the stated outcomes. Where appropriate and ethical, media will also form part of the data collection. Visual media might, for example be appropriate to record evidence of inclusive and accessible technology, or built environment.

Building upon existing DRILL networks, it is expected there will be scope for members of the four National Advisory Groups (NAGs) or the Central Research Committee (CRC) to form part of the PhD project steering committee. This will ensure coproduction, enabling disabled people to feed into future research and policy and service provision.

The ultimate aim is to identify an evidence base of ‘what works’ for disabled people in employment, to contribute to the creation of a Welsh Disability Standard for employers. In turn, it is envisaged this will also positively influence policies and practices in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  For more information and how to apply.

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