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AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
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WAM Information Pack

Below is the General Information Pack that is used when applying for any WAM placements. 

 What is WAM?

WAM (Willing Able Mentoring) is an initiative of AHEAD. AHEAD (the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability) is an independent non-profit organization working to promote full access to and participation in further and higher education for students with disabilities and to enhance their employment prospects on graduation.

The central objective of WAM is to promote a more inclusive labour market for graduates with disabilities. Over the last number of years WAM has developed a new and innovative mechanism for assisting graduates with disabilities to bridge the gap between college and work. This is achieved through the provision of paid and mentored work placements, which participating employers in WAM provide for graduates with disabilities. To this end WAM seeks to provide career opportunities in the mainstream world of work and successful candidates must be willing and ready to undertake the roles as offered.

For graduates, WAM offers valuable experience in a real work setting (relevant to qualifications) and assists in the development of social and networking skills all the while receiving ongoing support and guidance in the form of a mentoring program. All successful candidates will be assigned a mentor within the organisation that they are placed. This will be someone who works within the company, but is not their manager. Both candidate and mentor will receive training prior to placement start, where more information and guidelines will be given.

WAM is a partnership of employers and other key organizations who work together to identify and tackle the barriers facing graduates with disabilities in gaining employment and focuses on the learning that is to be gained by a collective sharing of experience and expertise. WAM benefits employer organisations as they get the opportunity to assess their internal recruitment and selection procedures regarding the employment of people with disabilities while actively evaluating workplace policies and procedures. Therefore WAM provides a genuine learning opportunity for all involved.

More information on the AHEAD WAM Programme is available on www.ahead.ie/wam . 

Please ensure you read all of our Rules & FAQs - https://www.ahead.ie/wam-faqs 

 Qualifying conditions of applying to the WAM Programme

In order to qualify to participate in the programme, an applicant must:

  • Have a disability, specific learning difficulty or mental health difficulty;
  • Be currently unemployed;
  • Be a graduate – please check the job descriptions for the minimum educational qualifications.
  • Be ready to undertake a full-time, graduate level work placement.

 Application Process

  • You must register an account on our database to apply for any WAM placements - www.ahead.ie/graddatabase
  • Applicants must submit their application for a WAM placement through the online account facility on the graduate database by uploading their CV and/or application form - please check the placement advertising webpages for the neccessary documentation to be uploaded for each placement;
  • Applications are screened by company;
  • Applicants who have successfully passed the initial screening process will be invited for interview;
  • Successful interview candidates will be shortlisted for positions;
  • Company may hold second round interviews;
  • Successful candidate will be offered a position;
  • A comprehensive needs assessment is conducted before candidate takes up a position. The offer of a placement is on the condition that a successful needs assessment is conducted.

Please note: that as there are a limited number of placements on offer, not all candidates will be successful in their application. Where the number of applicants exceeds the number of placements available, success at interview does not guarantee an offer of a placement.

It is the intention of the programme to ensure that all processes are fair, equitable and in line with the best recruitment and selection practices. It is envisaged that this process will take about 2 months.

 Illness / Disability Payment Information

The following are general guidelines and apply only to those who participate in the AHEAD WAM Programme and who are in receipt of illness/disability related payments from the Department of Social Protection. The rules regarding these payments are extensive and AHEAD is not an expert in this area. Entitlements to welfare benefits are based on a case by case assessment basis and are generally governed by either social insurance contributions or means tested rules. Means tested rules will also apply to earnings received during the AHEAD WAM Programme.

However, WAM has secured an agreement with the Department of Social Protection whereby it has agreed to assist with the administration of illness/disability payment entitlements for graduates who take up a WAM placement. In effect, this means:

  • Means-tested payments (i.e. Disability Allowance and Blind Persons Pension) will be recalculated based on earnings and income and may be suspended for the duration of the placement. Payments will be recalculated again on completion of placement.
  • Insurance based payments (i.e. Invalidity Pension & Illness Benefit) will be suspended for the duration of the placement but will be reinstated on completion of placement. 

The WAM participant will not have to re-apply for the payment when their placement is finished.

If you are successful in securing a placement, you will be required to supply your PPSN to WAM who will liaise with the Department of Social Protection on your behalf. All PPSN information is deleted from WAM’s files once it is passed onto the department.

The WAM Team will inform the Department of Social Protection of your starting date however the WAM participant will be responsible for informing the Department of Social Protection the finish date of the placement.  

All documentation provided can be made available in alternative formats on request.

If you have any queries, require any further information or assistance during this process, please contact the WAM Team at wam@ahead.ie or telephone 01 7168844 or text 086 7399971 and we will do our best to assist you.

 

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