Understanding School to Work Transition for Young People with Disabilities

For any young person the transition from school to work is a significant life event.  It usually signifies a shift towards greater independence and self determination. To negotiate this new stage successfully, young people need to develop new life and decision making skills to manage different responsibilities and relationships they will face on a day to day basis.

The school to work transition for young people with disabilities, has an additional layer of challenge in acquiring the necessary skills to learn about; work culture, interpersonal relationships and decision making skills, and even to resolve the logistics of getting around (transport training). For some people this will also include their goal to gain full time or part time employment.

As a parent of a teen or young adult with a disability, no doubt you want to help them establish their independence, but it can be hard to let go and trust they will have the support they need to live the life they want, moving into adulthood.

Choosing the right NDIS support provider is essential to make the school-to-work transition easier for both young people with disabilities as well as their parents. Ultimately, you want joining the workforce to be a successful experience for your child. Good planning, communication and  the assistance of a positive support network that fosters gradual, personalised, skill building and emotional readiness, will increase their chance of success.

We look at the school-to-work transition in more detail below and how you can help your child gain the skills they need to move into employment, training, study or another vocation.  

Get prepared early

Young people with disabilities need the right kind of support to find and maintain a job they are suited to and will be happy in. Planning for the school-to work transition when your child is in their early teens will give them a head start and allow time to foster emotional preparedness and build independence.

You can work with your disability support provider and teachers at school to plan for life after school. Think about what your child’s short and long term goals for work or further study are.

Do they want to get a job when they leave school, or do they want to continue on with formal education?

There are things to be considered, like what skills do you need for your chosen vocation? This includes work experience and training for the actual job, but also life skills such as how to plan and work towards work goals and how to build useful employment relationships. Identifying and learning the skills and practices needed to work towards each defined goal is a good step towards the school to work transition.

Depending on each person’s capacity, goals can be broken down to small, achievable steps and to a time frame that suits each person (and their family).

This could mean starting with something like an after school job, such as a paper run or leaflet delivery,  providing transferable skills including: commitment, discipline, responsibility, reliability, customer service, employment documentation,  problem solving and managing finances.

Planning for school to work transition should also take in all elements of a young person’s life as they converge and influence each other. Elements include different environments (eg. home, work, recreation, entertainment, community), different roles (partner, friend, son/daughter, employee, community member) and personal needs (social, physical, emotional, intellectual).

To learn and practice their skills, think about providing your child with similar experiences at school, home and in their community environment. This will help to build the understanding, knowledge and skills they need to negotiate similar scenarios in the real work environment.

When you know what your child’s goals are and plan early on, it also provides time to seek out the right connections and contacts needed to find work and build positive relationships outside home and school with people and mentors that may be able to support and advise your child in the future.

Trainee programs for work readiness

Work readiness programs that are run in secondary schools can give young people with disabilities useful training and exposure to the workforce before they leave the education system. If they have a goal to be employed then this can help them become more emotionally prepared to manage change, and help them with practical considerations such as, workplace requirements and culture, and understanding and using public transport.

For example, Ticket to Work is a national initiative interfaced with the NDIS to prepare and support young people with disabilities to enter the workforce. Local Ticket to Work networks match students with employers to increase the opportunity for meaningful work experiences and learning prior to leaving school.

Networks also provide students, parents and employers with support and guidance during and after the process.

Connecting with an NDIS disability support provider

For parents, the school-to-work transition for people with disabilities can be daunting and uncertain as you get to grips with your child’s new phase of life. Simultaneously, it is also a rewarding time for parents, as you see your child grow and develop into adulthood.

If you’ve been the primary caregiver, being able to let go of the reins a little could also signify a new opportunity to return to some work or other personal goals.

To plan and negotiate this unique stage of life successfully it is really important that you connect with an NDIS support provider that:

  • specialises in working with teens and young adults, and
  • has experience in planning and supporting young people through the school to work transition.

A good provider should be able to assist your child to access the skills, knowledge, experiences and capacity building opportunities they need.

As your child grows up and looks toward their future, it is important their support provider is able to mentor them through this significant life stage and also continue to support them through the various other stages of their life.

How to choose an NDS Provider for Teens & Young Adults

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