Pictured at the BNest Social Enterprise Incubator Showcase 2018 – 2019 at Nexus Innovation Centre, UL are (left to right) Eamon Ryan, BNest, Dr Sarah Miller, CEO of The Rediscovery Centre, Mike Conacur, Thinking Jobs, Johnny McGrath, Thinking Jobs and Kasia Zabinska, BNest. Picture: Conor Owens/ilovelimerick.
Thinking Jobs help adults with disabilities to get sustainable and long term employment
Thinking Jobs is a not for profit specialist recruitment agency, founded by Johnny McGrath and Mike Conacur. It is tasked specifically with getting a significant number of adults with disabilities into sustainable and long term employment. Thinking Jobs are looking for the opportunity to deliver a very high-quality commercial service to meet a real commercial need by providing, benefits to employees through increased self-esteem, mental health, and independence. Thinking Jobs focuses on the abilities of each person and not the disability.
Johnny and Mike both got involved with Thinking Jobs from personal experience. Johnny has Cerebral Palsy, is a UL Psychology Graduate and is an Irish Paralympic Swimmer and Mike is a parent of a 23 year old daughter with disabilities. For the past 15 years, Mike has been involved in disabilities after founding Thinking Toys. Thinking Toys specialises in providing toys & equipment suitable for children with Special Needs. It is a family business inspired by Mike’s daughter who has Sturge Weber Syndrome and who had major brain surgery when she was 2 years old.
Mike states, “Only 29% of working-age adults across all disabilities are in employment and of 104,609 people with disability at work, only 5,200 are people with an intellectual disability.” Thinking Jobs are determined to highlight the facts of hiring a person with a disability. Johnny said “they can do the job as well as, or better than an adult without a disability, they are less absenteeism with better staff retention. People with disability are safer in the workplace as they follow the process 100%, it also has an intangible feel-good factor.”
Thinking Jobs recently took part in the BNest Incubator Programme, the first dedicated Social Enterprise Incubator Programme in Ireland, which caters to all types of organisations from non-profits to community enterprises to businesses with a social conscience. BNest offers a six-month peer programme at no cost to participating organisations and is dedicated to helping businesses that want to make a social impact. Mike told ilovelimerick, “Six months ago we had a concept around trying to organise employment for adults with disabilities. In the intervening period, Eamonn, Kasia, Pauline, and our fellow BNesters have challenged us and supported us in equal measures and we now have a real vision as to how we can successfully launch Thinking Jobs. The road ahead will certainly not be easy if it was then this issue would have been solved long ago. But we truly feel that we have advice and guidance on the end of the phone whenever we need it.”
Thinking Jobs provide pre-employment training to employee and employer as well as reviewing adaptation needs, both physical and in work practices and on-going support for employees and employers by use of job mentors.
Mike and Johnny look forward to the future of Thinking Jobs as they set up meetings with Randy Lewis and Walgreens in the US to be informed on their successful approach and determine a suitable manner of implementing in Ireland. Walgreens is the largest drug store chain in the US. Throughout their 20 distribution centres, up to 35% of their workforce has a disability. Mike said, “We will liaise with other service providers throughout Ireland who have successfully or unsuccessfully considered methodologies regarding employment of Adults with Disabilities and identify a suitable corporate partner to run a Pilot Programme to show that there are real benefits for all parties in providing adults with disabilities with real, commercial jobs.”
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