Academic Literature

Stuck in Transition, Exploring the Spaces of Employment Training for Youth with Intellectual Disability

2008
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Stuck in Transition, Exploring the Spaces of Employment Training for Youth with Intellectual Disability

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This paper is concerned with the experiences of young adults with intellectual disabilities as they transition from high school in search of paid employment. The experiences of people with intellectual disability remain under-researched within geography. We use qualitative techniques to examine the experiences of six young adults with intellectual disabilities. Data are drawn from interviews with the youth themselves, their parents, and employers, as well as from participant observation at an employment training program for the intellectually disabled. While the primary goal of the youth and their parents was to make a transition to competitive paid work, a lack of transition planning, a shortage of appropriate opportunities and other factors meant the youth spent considerable time in ‘transitional spaces’ such as the vocational training centre, sheltered workshop, and supported employment placements. While these spaces are organized around an explicitly economic goal of augmenting the youth’s employability, they can play a critical role as spaces for social interaction and meaningful activity outside the home. Study findings point to the importance of moving beyond paid employment as the core of a successful transition to consider a broader goal of ‘meaningful activity’.

Butcher, S., & Wilton, R. (2008). Stuck in transition? Exploring the spaces of employment training for youth with intellectual disability. Geoforum, 39(2), 1079-1092.

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