Breaking barriers for Gen Z: Supporting deaf young people in the workplace

Breaking barriers for Gen Z: Supporting deaf young people in the workplace

Louise Stephens-Saunders, Practice Lead for Early Talent and Assessment at ManpowerGroup, is our guest blogger for World Hearing Day (3 March).

As we mark World Hearing Day 2024 with the theme “changing mindsets: let’s make ear and hearing care a reality for all!” it’s imperative to shine a light on the challenges faced by deaf Gen Zers as they transition from education to the workplace.

Closer to home, according to the National Deaf Children’s Society, there are over 50,000 deaf children in the UK. What does the future hold for these individuals as they navigate the professional world?

Post-16 education sees the majority of young deaf people continuing their studies at college, whether it be sixth form or further education. However, the journey from education to employment isn’t always smooth. Deaf individuals are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to their hearing peers. This alarming statistic underscores the importance of implementing adequate support, an equitable recruitment practice and reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

One of the significant challenges faced by deaf young people is the lack of awareness regarding available technology to support them in their professional endeavours. In a survey conducted by the National Deaf Children’s Society, 75% of deaf young people expressed that they were unaware of the technologies that could facilitate their work. Tailored careers support becomes not just beneficial but vital to empower deaf individuals to thrive in various job roles.

Deafness, often being an invisible condition, brings forth a myriad of emotional challenges. Deaf and hard of hearing individuals frequently experience feelings of being misunderstood, unseen, invisible and isolated. Moreover, deafness can intersect with other invisible struggles such as mental wellbeing issues and a profound sense of not belonging. These emotional barriers, if left unaddressed, can significantly impede wellbeing, professional growth and job satisfaction.

Employers play a pivotal role in breaking down these barriers and fostering an inclusive workplace environment. By implementing reasonable adjustments and providing adequate support, employers can create an atmosphere where deaf young people feel valued, understood and empowered to excel.

So, what kind of support and adjustments can make a tangible difference in the lives of deaf individuals in the workplace? The NCDS offer some valuable advice on how to make your services and workplace deaf-friendly and to create a more positive experience for deaf people: click here.

Breaking barriers for Gen Z: Supporting deaf young people in the workplace

By proactively addressing the unique needs and challenges faced by deaf young people, employers can unlock the full potential of their workforce and contribute to building a more inclusive and equitable society.

As we commemorate World Hearing Day 2024, let us reaffirm our commitment to changing mindsets, dismantling barriers and creating opportunities for all, regardless of hearing ability. Together, we can make ear and hearing care a reality for everyone.

To learn more about Early Careers initiatives to support inclusion and belonging, please get in touch.