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The support organisations established by the Rector's Office of the Czech Technical University in Prague - the Career Centre and the ELSA Centre for the Support of Students with Specific Needs - received special recognition in the National Career Counselling Award 2023 competition. This recognition was awarded literally for the "holistic approach to students with specific needs at CTU".

The award was for the new Extra Career project. This is a unique programme in which students of the CTU could take advantage of career counselling, work with psychologists who taught them to transform their disability into an advantage, and at the end a recruiter was available for them.

But the unique program can also serve as a methodology for employers, companies. It was presented at EuroGuidance by Iva Hájková Peláková, head of the CTU Career Centre, and it has attracted interest from other universities.

"We are hearing from universities across the Czech Republic that are interested in implementing the project at their university. We will provide them with the prepared procedure, including what we would do differently next time after the pilot programme. We believe that this expansion of Extra Career will improve the situation of people with specific needs on the labour market and that we will also draw the attention of employers to this group of candidates who have a lot to offer," said Hájková Peláková.

"The Extra Career project taught us how to work with students with specific needs," said the head of the CTU Career Centre. Moreover, her colleagues from the ELSA Centre learned how the labour market works and showed what is currently needed to prepare students for the future.

"We have realised the need to use part-time jobs for people with specific needs. They use it mainly because of the increased need for regular rehabilitation or therapy," said Jana Zdarsová from the Elsa Centre.

The project graduates were satisfied that they had discovered their strengths and learned to communicate them, but also to explain their weaknesses to the recruiters. They were better prepared for what to expect when applying for a job, and some of them have even successfully tried it out in practice.

"We plan to continue the project as soon as we get funding for it. As a follow-up step, we are also creating a guide for companies on how to approach candidates with specific needs and how they can be interesting to them," explained Iva Hájková Peláková.

For students, both parts of the CTU Rectorate will create a methodology for how to proceed in their job search. For example, whether to mention their disability and talk about it during the selection process. The Extra Career project has shown that this is very individual for each student, but it has also given a key to how they can best find the procedure. One of the surprises for company representatives then was that a person with a specific need is far from having to be physically disabled.

The aim of the National Career Counselling Award is to support the development of career counselling and education, collect examples of good practice and inspire career counsellors and teachers in the Czech Republic and Europe.

Contact person: 
Kateřina Veselá