04 SES 02 C, Vocational Training
People with disabilities are at high risk of social exclusion, starting from the early stages of education. In many cases, the risk of social marginalisation increases as they grow into adults, as young disabled people are less likely to participate in post-16 education and training (Directorate-General for Education and Culture [DG-EAC], 2012). This has significant consequences on the employment rates and net income of working-age disabled people. In the past 5 years, the employment rates of disabled people in the UK who report a ‘work-limiting disability’ and at the same time are classed as ‘disabled’ have been less than half of that for non-disabled people (Hills at al., 2010; Riddell, Edward, Weedon & Ahlgren, 2010; Meager & Higgins, 2011).
Although clearly not as disadvantaged as people with other types of impairment (such as people with mental health conditions or with learning disabilities; see Meager & Higgins, 2011), people who are deaf and hard ofhearing also seem to face barriers in finding and staying in employment. Between 2002 and 2008, the Office for Disability Issues in the United Kingdom reported employment rates ranging between 56 - 58% for hearing impaired people, whereas approximately 80% of non-disabled people were in employment (Riddell et al., 2010). This situation is echoed elsewhere. For instance, in 2005 63% of all graduates of Swedish special schools for the deaf (aged 25-64) were in employment, as opposed to an estimated 78% of the general population (Rydberg, Coniavitis Gellerstedt & Danermark, 2010).
In a review of data on employment outcomes for deaf and hard of hearing people, Punch, Hyde & Creed (2004) conclude that ‘relative to their hearing peers, deaf adults have been found to be less educated, to experience more unemployment and underemployment, and to have lower incomes’ (p.30), and suggest that the reasons for this lie with generally lower literacy and educational achievement outcomes, attitudinal and environmental barriers, and lower levels of career maturity and decision-making competency of deaf adolescents.
The present study analyses the educational and employment outcomes of deaf and hard of hearing young people in Scotland, by looking at their transition processes from compulsory schooling to training, employment, and further or higher education. For reasons brevity, the term ‘deaf’ is used in the remainder of this paper to indicate people with all levels of hearing loss. The following research questions are addressed:
- What are the post-school destinations of deaf young people in Scotland and how do these compare with those of non-disabled young people and young people with other types of additional support needs?
- What barriers are encountered by deaf young people in accessing post-school education, employment and training opportunities?
- For deaf young people, how do their post-school destinations impact on their ability to achieve other important markers of adulthood, such as independent living arrangements and the formation of independent relationships?
- What factors promote ‘successful’ post-school transitions?
Directorate-General for Education and Culture. (2012). Education and disability/special needs policies and practice in education, training and employment for students with disabilities and special educational needs in the EU: an independent report prepared for the European Commission by the NESSE network of experts. Brussels: EC. Edward, S., Riddell, S., O’Neill, R., & Weedon, E. (2009). The Impact of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 on Deaf Children. CREID, University of Edinburgh. Hills, J., Brewer, M., Jenkins, S., Lister, R., Lupton., R., Machin, S., …Riddell, S. (2010). An anatomy of economic inequality in the UK: Report of the National Equality Panel. London: Government Equalities Office Meager, N., & Higgins, T. (2011). Disability and skills in a changing economy. Briefing Paper Series: UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Punch, R., Hyde, M., & Creed, P. A. (2004). Issues in the school-to-work transition of hard of hearing adolescents. American Annals of the Deaf, 149, 28-38. Riddell, S., Edward, S., Weedon, E., & Algren, L. (2010). Disability, skills and employment: A review of recent statistics and literature on policy and initiatives. Research Report 59, Manchester: Equality and Human Rights Commission. Rydberg, E., Coniavitis Gellerstedt, L., & Danermark, B. (2010). The position of the deaf in the Swedish labour market. American Annals of the Deaf, 155, 68-77.
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