Employment transition support for school students with disability to combat unemployment issues

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Outdoorsy by nature, Barkuma’s DES helped Sam after high school to gain work experience and employment at Living Colour Nursery, where he has been happily employed for 2 years. [Source: Supplied]
Outdoorsy by nature, Barkuma’s DES helped Sam after high school to gain work experience and employment at Living Colour Nursery, where he has been happily employed for 2 years. [Source: Supplied]

SPONSORED STORY - Disability service provider, Barkuma, is hoping to combat unemployment issues among school students with disability through their Transition Program, which supports final-year school students to transition into the workforce and other future career pathways.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report found that people with disability who are of working age (15 to 64) are twice as likely to be unemployed and are more likely to be unemployed for longer than those without a disability.

The report, 'People with disability in Australia 2020', also found that people with disability experience greater difficulty in finding work due to different barriers they face, like a lack of necessary skills or education or insufficient work experience.

Employment Outcomes Executive at Barkuma, Cherie Jolly, says that there are significant and meaningful inroads that can be made through their program that assists people with disability to find jobs.

"There are numerous practical ways to help people with disability to overcome systemic barriers to employment," explains Ms Jolly. 

"These include providing programs that focus on career development activities and practical employment skills building, such as mock interviews, resume writing and career counselling.

"The skills developed by students can then be complemented by accredited training through the likes of TafeSA and private RTOs, covering fields such as horticulture, retail, construction, hospitality, hair and beauty, and IT."

Disabled People's Organisations Australia (DPOA), peak body for people with disability, says that a greater proportion of people with disability do not enter the workforce at all in the first seven years after they finish schooling.

It found that the biggest problem for people with disability getting work is a "lack of practical assistance for employers to support employment of people with disability; negative employer and community attitudes; and poor transition to work initiatives for school leavers."

The Barkuma Transition Program works with final-year students with disability over a 12 month period to assist them through structured learning, skill development, accredited training, and provide work placement opportunities.

The program provides real-world experience to students with disability so they can be prepared for the workplace.

Ms Jolly says that additional crucial changes are necessary by employers and the community in their attitudes, in Government funding, and greater legal protection is needed for people with disability to improve employment outcomes.

Participants in the Transition Program are celebrated for their efforts and skill-building over their final year of their schooling.

"The culmination of the Transition Program, our students undertake one week of work experience, which is enhanced by the support of a key worker, and then we celebrate their achievements and award certificates at the formal graduation ceremony," says Ms Jolly.

Students can also be assured that they will receive ongoing support after school to find and keep a job, participants of the Transition Program can move into one of Barkuma's other employment pathways, such as the School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) and Disability Employment Services (DES), which provide further assistance after they leave school to get employment.

Barkuma also has an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) program for people with disability to further develop their skills.

To learn more about how the Transition Program can assist you, visit the Barkuma website or call 08 8414 7100.

Organisation Bio:

Barkuma is a South Australian not-for-profit organisation that provides a range of supports for people with disability. For over 50 years, Barkuma has provided an environment of self-determination that opens up a lifetime of limitless learning and opportunity. Together with clients, Barkuma establishes the capacity and confidence to transition out of high school and continue to build a life of independence that makes quality employment and accommodation outcomes achievable.