What’s NEXT? The need for vocational and continuing education for young adults with Special Educational Needs.

I love my work with children, teens and young adults with special educational needs to such an extent that our RED DOOR practice is considering setting up a vocational and educational facility for young adults in the near future*.

To best understand the services required for young adults (particularly in Hong Kong) I have looked at both the services provided in HK including those by YES, Watchdog, and the Nesbitt Centre (all of which do wonderful work by the way within their areas of expertise) as well as the needs to young adults emerging from high school in Hong Kong and around the world, particularly those with disabilities. Good people are doing good work, but the data is still depressing.

 

In general, it’s not a great time to be a young adult.

Exploring data from International Labour Organization (2017 data in the link below), global employment trends for growth 2017 suggests the global unemployment rate was 13.1%. The youth population (disabled or otherwise) represents more than 70 million people globally are experiencing unemployment – they are neither in employment or in further education. Young adults are 3 times as likely to be unemployed than older adults. Young people need to be prepared to be educated but still be unemployed. This applies to all young adults, and affects the disabled in a disproportionate format. The future of the world of work is the topic of many fantastic books at the moment and will have a major impact on those already in work, and the next generation of college and school graduates.

It’s even worse if you have a disability.

Exploring US data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics (link below) the disabled experience less employment than those who have no disability and are young.

youthemploy2
• For those 16-19 years old and disabled only 17% are employed, and 26% are underemployed
• For those 20-24 years old and disabled only 37% of that population are employed, and 14.6% are underemployed.
• For those 20-25 years old and disabled only 43% of that population are employed, and 10.9 % are underemployed.
There are often barriers for those with disability to gain access to suitable employment, including prejudice and misconceptions among employers, difficulty accommodating people’s physical or work schedule needs, the type of disability including the health implications, the ability to act a in socially expected manner, academic or task related competencies, and of course having the right skills. Part of the solution to this problem is adequate education of employers (thank you to the SENsational consultancy in Hong Kong http://www.senconsultancyltd.com)
To better prepare the next generation of special educational adults, we as parents and educators need to provide ample services to those young adults as they launch from high school into the next stage of their careers. The majority of areas in which disabled individuals in Hong Kong find employment (hospitality, some retail, office work) are covered by certain centres and the SHINE organisation as well. (please see Sassy article link at the end).

Careers need to built around specific strengths of the individuals

The gap exists for children who have different areas of strength and varying levels of motivation – perhaps they are great artists, mathematicians, photographers, early childhood teaching assistants, even have extremely good knowledge of music or ability to sing. For them, and many others they not only require a more customised style of vocational training not previously available in HK. What is also important, they may have finished school without their education being complete. They may need a basic entry level of English or Math in order to start their career in a suitable arena, and this needs to be made possible within a setting that also teaches the requisite social skills and independence skills. Private tutoring provides the content but not the context. Quite simply, these kids, need the continue a concept of school until they are more fully cooked.

A new hope for the future – worth considering.

One area of employment growth which I believe has enormous potential is the area of self-employment. Self-employment for people with special educational needs may help build career success within the future world of work. Portfolio work – working on various projects, and different arenas – in a freelancing capacity might be suit them more. What parents and their young adults need is a customised plan to help create these opportunities. RED DOOR will have a session on these ideas within the next few weeks so watch out for that.
In collaboration with their families and their community, young adults with disability can start to build a strong plan to identify their strengths, and vocations which celebrate those strengths. I am not saying its going to be easy. I’m simply pointing out that its necessary and possible.

#Specialeducationalneeds #downsyndrome #autism #continuingeducation #reddoor #nextacademy #vocationaltraining #youthunemployment #unemploymentdisabled
If you would like to know more about our plans for the NEXT ACADEMY please contact Angelaw@reddoor.hk.

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Useful links:
The International Labour Organization
https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/—publ/documents/publication/wcms_600465.pdf

If you want to know more about the future of work – see our blog: Future success is no accident; preparing for the future of work. https://reddoor.hk/2017/08/09/defeating-fo-fow/
the bureau of labour statistics comparing the rates of employment and underemployment in the US.
https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm

For a list of educational services for SEN in HK
https://www.sassymamahk.com/special-needs-education-services-and-resources-in-hong-kong/

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