The present paper aims to outline the case for diversity gains for employers via virtual internships, while recognizing the role of government and educational support.
In the context of Australian employment statistics about people with disabilities, the actors, key issues and barriers to utilizing virtual internships are explored.
The results of an online survey with 24 career, access and inclusion service officers at Australian universities suggested that the large majority were unfamiliar with virtual internships, as many shared concerns about what kind of learning and mentoring opportunities such computer-mediated internships may provide to their students.
Employers embracing new e-HR developments may be particularly well situated to adopt virtual internships and combine these effectively with existing diversity initiatives, many of which already include mentoring and learning opportunities. A closer dialogue with career, access and inclusion services may further support a fruitful knowledge exchange and reduce the concerns of educational representatives about virtual internships and their usefulness to increase the employment prospects of people with disabilities.
At present, virtual internship programs remain the exception, and are often not connected with diversity initiatives, nor are virtual internships well known among student services. However, virtual internships represent a promising opportunity for employers who wish to access untapped national (or even international) talent pools and thus candidates that would benefit from and contribute to their diversity initiatives.
This research was not funded by any agency or grant.
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