What do you want to be when you grow up?  

Every child asks themselves this question and dreams of fulfilling their potential and earning their own money or being a member of a sports club or other society. For young people with chronic conditions this is easier said than done. At an age when other children go to school and hang out with friends, they are in and out of hospitals, often missing out on learning and social opportunities.And even if they do overcome the obstacles to qualify in their chosen field, finding a job that they can do, or an employer willing to give them a chance, is far from the norm. However, the chance to work – something many of us take for granted – makes a huge difference to the lives of these young people. ¨Work has given me a sense of stability. I have learned to deal with my shortcomings. I now know what I want and what I can do,” says Lieke, who found a job in HR through Dutch charity Emma at Work. She has been in a wheelchair following a spinal cord injury 13 years ago. 

Making the workplace more accessible 

In the Netherlands 500,000 youngsters who live with a chronic illness want to fulfill their potential and be financially independent but struggle to find work.Closing the gap between these youngsters and the labour market is the reason why Emma at Work exists.

At PageGroup, Netherlands, we believe chronic physical illness should not prevent young people from doing meaningful work. As recruitment experts we match candidates and employers and we wanted to use our matchmaking skills and experience to make a difference to these young people’s lives. 

That’s why we agreed to partner with Emma at Work through the GAP200 partner network to make the job market more accessible for young people with chronic illness. 

‘We learned so much from these youngsters’  

For the project, eight PageGroup recruitment consultants mentored candidates from Emma at Work for six months - teaching them to prepare CVs and cover letters, and subsequently how to best profile themselves in interviews to give them a better chance of securing work. Our consultants taught them the concrete skills they need to help in their job search. At the same time, the young people shared with our consultants how to approach and interview young people living with chronic conditions sensitively, and how to educate employers about the capabilities and needs of candidates like themselves. “This experience has had a profound impact on the youngsters and mentors. They gained self-confidence in a safe environment with industry professionals, while we learned about the hurdles they face to access the job market,” says Ilze Lamers, PageGroup HR Director Northern Europe. 

It´s up to all of us to make a difference   

At PageGroup we are committed to diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. Find out about our other diversity and inclusivity programmes. Our partnership with Emma at Work is an example of our commitment to contribute to these goals in the wider society beyond our immediate workplace because it’s up to all of us to close the gap.Only if we all get involved, can we make sure that every child has a chance to realize their potential. Find out more about Emma at Work and Gap200. 

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