Individuals with intellectual disability are commonly excluded from ordinary employment. This means that they also miss out on the many opportunities that employment gives, such as enhanced economic independence, a sense of meaningfulness, higher levels of self-determination, and larger social networks. Nonetheless, persons with intellectual disability will generally be able to engage in a variety of work tasks if they are given the necessary support. However, we need more systematic knowledge as to how we can help them in this process.
With this project, we intend to gain more information about how persons with mild intellectual disability more readily can gain access to ordinary employment. We investigate to main areas in this project:
1) A qualitative study where we look into the characteristics of effective school-work transitions for persons with mild intellectual disability.
2) A quantitative study where we examine the expectations, attitudes and demands that employers have towards employees with mild intellectual disability.
On the basis of these findings, we will develop a manual that may inform educators, counsellors, and supported employment services about how they can collaborate as best as possible with work places. This way, we aim to achieve that employees with mild intellectual disability receive the support that they need at the work place.
In the course of 2021, we conducted the data collection and analysis for the second work package of our project, namely a quantitative survey amongst employers in order to assess their experiences and expectations towards hiring employees with intellectual disability. Based on this work, we have currently one article under review. The title of the article is "Work opportunities and workplace characteristics for employees with intellectual disability in the Norwegian labour market" and it is under review in the International Journal of Disability, Development and Education. The most important contribution of this article is that it clearly identifies the multitude of work tasks that are or may be available to employees with intellectual disability, and these tasks may themselves be differentiated according to level of difficulty. Employees with intellectual disability perform a large variety of work tasks at different work places, which suggests, amongst others, that the personal preferences of people with intellectual disability may guide their career choices.
We are currently also working on three other manuscripts in relation to this part of the project, and it is our goal to submit all three articles before the end of this year.
We have also started on our project's first work package, which is a qualitative study of best case scenarios. Here, we have just started the recruitment and data collection process, and we will continue with this for the remainder of the fall and next spring.
The literature study that was under review at the time of our previous project update has now been published in the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities.
In addition, we presented our project in a workshop during the digital NordYrk-conference (June 2021), and we also presented a selection of our findings of the second work package in a poster session at the international ECER-conference (September 2021).
When it comes to popular dissemination of our project, we wrote a chronicle about the limited job opportunities for people with intellectual disability. This chronicle was published at www.forskersonen.no, and the media attention that it received resulted in two newspaper interviews.
As planned we also invited a new member into our advisory board. We are confident that the new member will be able to contribute with important knowledge and valuable suggestions in both the first and third work package of the project.
The project is progressing according to our original time frame.
Individuals with mild intellectual disability (ID) are commonly excluded from competitive employment, and as such, they may miss out on the multiple benefits that employment offers, such as greater financial independence, a sense of purpose, increased social networks, and increased autonomy. Yet, persons with this diagnosis are generally able to engage in employment if support is provided. However, transition teams may lack the knowledge and competencies to help persons with ID towards employment, and therefore, the process often remains unsystematic and random.
This research project will consist of three parts: i) a qualitative best-case exploration of successful transition processes of employees with mild ID who are in competitive employment, and to identify which environmental characteristics and personal skills are essential for them to gain and maintain employment; ii) a quantitative survey to investigate attitudes and demands that employers have towards employees with mild ID, and iii) combining findings from the first and second project objective to develop a transition manual that can inform transition teams how to best partner with work places to ensure proper supports for employees with ID. The novelty of this study is that it will contribute with new knowledge about parameters that are significant in the planning of effective transition strategies towards work life for Norwegian students with mild ID, and the project has a clear ambition to contribute to the field with a hands-on research result, as it aims to apply empirical data for the development of a practical transition manual.
In this project, researchers will collaborate with relevant stakeholders, such as individuals with ID, special educators in secondary education, pedagogical-psychological services, NAV counsellors, and employers.