How AAI is making a difference

A look at how AAI has grown and some of the impact our work is making

AAI is now an award-winning Third Sector organisation, specialising in inclusive graduate talent recruitment and employability-focused social impact projects. The team has worked with 1000+ cross-sector organisations including councils, charities, SMEs, startups and large corporates, advising on, and facilitating, short-term projects and permanent positions for motivated job seekers from all walks of life.

AAI firmly believes in open access to opportunities for all and has a strong diversity agenda. It works with every university and college in Scotland to promote its opportunities to their alumni, as well as promoting through many other online channels and communities. It operates a fair and transparent process of application and assessment and continually strives towards embedding a paid internship culture in Scotland and beyond.

For those who require additional assistance, AAI offers one-to-one support with its professional mentoring programme, which has seen 51 successful matches over the last 2 years. In addition, it runs a project to support disabled graduates, promotes returnships for women returners and works with the Scottish Government to offer targeted assistance to BME women trying to find work with unique cultural challenges.

Ensuring that all graduates are paid has allowed people from all socio-economic backgrounds equal access to work. This audience has grown organically through the bespoke and transparent service of support AAI offers. This diversity is greatly sought after by businesses of all sizes.

100% of any surplus goes towards supporting graduate job seekers from all socio-economic backgrounds. 


Social Mobility & Gender Diversity

The empowerment of marginalised groups is key to the AAI mission. Since 2010 the organisation has fought against the culture of unpaid internships, which exclude those from lower socio-economic backgrounds who may not have the professional networks or connections to create opportunity.

35% of AAI applicants are the first in their family to go to university. This is a rough means test, but in our experience, these graduates have less financial support and less family connections to help them in their career. 

58% of AAI applicants are women, translating to 65% of successful candidates. Between June 2018 and June 2019, 44% of applications to STEM-related roles were from women, diversifying the Scottish workforce and closing the gender pay

AAI has a client list of 1000+ employers, has helped 1600+ job seekers to access valuable employment opportunities and boasts 73% repeat business. 

97% go onto a positive destination while 74% gain full-time, graduate-level jobs, in the field of their choice, immediately after the AAI position, due to the opportunities given to them (this is significantly higher than the national average). 

AAI has a 97% successful placement rate. 


Social Impact Projects around Diversity and Inclusion

The championing of diversity and inclusion is not something AAI has adopted recently, but has been embedded in the company’s values from the outset. Joy Lewis founded the company on ‘equal opportunities for all’ and readily challenges employment barriers for marginalised groups. 

2017 - present has been busy for AAI in terms of social impact projects around diversity and inclusive employment. 

Back To Work saw 50 BME women returners take part in employability workshops and paid ‘returnship’ opportunities with almost 40% supported into paid work.

Diversity Works has enabled AAI to work at a deeper level with 30 employers. AAI has used its experience to increase employer learning about the recruitment and onboarding of BME women and the changes they need to make to their systems and policies to improve their chance of a successful inclusive recruitment agenda. 

Disabling Barriers focused on the research and development of an employer ‘toolkit’. It gives practical advice to organisations and graduates and aims to break down barriers and get more disabled graduates into successful employment. AAI hired disabled graduate Ross Pollard as a Disability Employment Researcher for the project. Ross has now been promoted to Disabling Barriers Project Lead, consulting businesses on inclusive employment processes.

pRESPECT is a new project that aims to empower BME people to move into meaningful jobs by providing intensive personal career development courses including group workshops, one to one coaching, proactive employment preparations, employer engagement and networking events. 

From September - December 2019, pRESPECT will bring employers and prospects together to develop an actionable system that supports and works towards increasing and improving diversity in the workforce, while understanding and breaking down the barriers to work. 

The Project is led by Viana Maya, one of the women returner success stories from Back To Work. pRESPECT is supported by the Scottish Government and the Hunter Foundation, with laptops donated by Skyscanner.

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Projects to support CSR 

Recognising an increasing awareness and desire within the private sector to deliver more visible, tangible and transparent social value, AAI developed three new products to offer businesses: 

  • business-sponsored placements to support local communities/third sector sustainability
  • educating SMEs on disability recruitment through workshops
  • promoting racial and gender diversity in the workplace through inclusive business events.

AAI’s vision is of a dynamic, fair and accessible employment culture throughout the UK that inspires graduates and makes a meaningful and sustainable contribution to participating employers and the economy.

By promoting inclusive recruitment practices, it aims to reach private sector businesses and support them to improve their own social impact around diversity and the sustainability of local communities through employment.


Ecosystem Support

In terms of supporting entrepreneurship and economic inclusive growth, AAI is a proud member of the Scotland Can Do Collective, Business Growth Support Member with Scottish EDGE, recruitment partner to FutureX and a Disability Confident accredited employer.  

Joy’s vision was to create a transparent, fair and open process within an ethical organisation, which AAI has achieved. One-third of AAI clients are third sector organisations, who receive a 50% discount on our services.

AAI continues to grow and thrive on the talent of Scotland's young people; 66% of AAI staff started at the company as paid interns before becoming permanent team members.

Sustainability as a Third Sector organisation

Setting the company up as a not-for-profit organisation was key to ensuring that everything AAI does, continually goes back into the graduate and business communities, supporting them as best as possible. AAI now regularly sees enquiries for interns from employers who were themselves recruited by AAI as interns in the early years - a second generation of impact.

Through sheer confidence of conviction, the team has managed to successfully transition from a grant-funded organisation to a sustainable not-for-profit organisation without compromising the vision or values of its initial inception.

There is still work to be done and AAI’s dedication to inclusive employment will continue with the support of the fantastic partners, supporters and funders the organisation has attracted since inception.


Supported by

All ecosystem logos and project support orgs (not startups)

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  • Team AAI
    published this page in Social Impact 2019-09-04 11:07:16 +0100


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