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24 May 2007
Cardiff University research into the best way to support young people with learning disabilities to move from learning to work has been highlighted to Members of Parliament.
The ‘Young People with Learning Disabilities - What Works?’ project will culminate in a blueprint Good Practice Guide for parents and education authorities when research is completed later this year.
Early findings from the School of Medicine’s Welsh Centre for Learning Disabilities were presented at a parliamentary event hosted by Member of Parliament for Aberavon, Hywel Francis.
The research findings already indicate that it is not the level of learning disability that hampers young people’s progress from education to work, it is the lack of effective work experience support. Dr Stephen Beyer, Deputy Director of the Welsh Centre for Learning Disabilities at Cardiff University said: "Initial results suggest that supported work experience organised by partner employment organisations (rather than by schools), and specific employment awareness courses organised by schools, are important predictors of a job as an outcome."
"We’re still in the middle of follow-on research, but it seems that effective involvement of employment agencies is critical if employment as an option is to be made available to school leavers."
Cardiff University was commissioned to conduct the research by the Shaw Trust, with funding from the Big Lottery Fund, prompted by concern about the future prospects of young people who fall through the support network. The research is examining the barriers to education and employment faced by young people with learning disabilities and the success of the current range of programmes available.
The research project is investigating six different approaches in transition planning and intervention to gauge the effectiveness in securing employment and social inclusion for young people with learning difficulties. A sample of 147 young people, leaving schools in 2005 and 2006 and who had experienced one of the six different transition approaches, is being monitored.
The School of Medicine team is finalising follow up studies on the young people’s progress after leaving school, which will give feedback on the long-term effectiveness of the six models.
The final report, to be produced later this year, will be followed by a policy conference in the autumn. The team plan to produce academic papers on the subject, as well as a good practice guide.
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