ESF Ability Programme Support

Ability is co-financed by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

Specialisterne is a specialist Irish recruitment agency that supports talented individuals with
Autism, Aspergers and similar challenges to find and retain meaningful employment.
In July 2018, Specialisterne launched its ‘Ability’ programme. This programme will
facilitate Specialisterne to assist over 100 students and recent graduates from third level
colleges throughout Ireland to prepare for and gain meaningful employment in the workplace.
The Ability Programme is an ESF funded programme aimed at guiding young people with
disabilities aged between 15-29 towards the labour market. Ability provides funding on a
local, regional and national level for projects. The programme aims to be person-centred and
assists individuals who are not currently work ready.

The programme is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) and administered by
Pobal. This funding will enable Specialisterne, working with and Aspect (under the
aegis of the Cork Association for Autism) to double the capacity of supports to young adults
between the ages of 18 and 29.

Over the course of the 3-year Ability Programme, Specialisterne will assess, mentor and
secure suitable placements for students with the ultimate goal of long-term employment.
Students will be supported through the transition from full-time education into the working
environment and support them in the long-run.
Here at Specialisterne, we are delighted to be partnered with the Ability Programme and are
currently working with IT Carlow with a fantastic group of students on CV and cover letter
preparation, interview skills and techniques and confidence building. We hope to work with
other colleges and institutions in the near future to unlock the potential of an underutilized the
extremely talented students with a disability.
In the words of Sheila Gilheany, Chair, Specialisterne Ireland: “It’s time to change the
statistics and end the talent loss. In an age of almost full employment, it is not acceptable that
there at least 15,000 adults with autism unemployed, despite possessing 3 rd level

According to Adam Harris, disability advocate and founder of ““This project aims
to help students with autism transition from third level and ultimately to independence by
helping with their transition to employment.
Specialisterne General Manager Peter Brabazon said: “This programme will help assess
student’s abilities and areas of strength while they are still in college and provide training to
undertake work experience, to ensure students with autism access the same opportunities as
their peers.  We will then work with both the students and their employers to ensure both
their starting in work and their retention afterwards are successful. The outcome will be a
model of inclusion and successful transition suitable for all students with autism who are
currently studying or who have recently left college and who are seeking work.”