Post school options for young people with intellectual disability

If you (or someone you care for) are nearing the end of their school journey, it’s time to think about the next steps. 

Many school leavers with intellectual disability go straight into employment. Others undertake further training and education or build their skills through work experience. There are many government-funded programs and services that can help make your transition a success.

What are my goals?

When thinking about your next steps, it’s important to start with your goals. Whether you know what job you want to do in the future or not, setting goals can help you figure out what’s next.

Ask yourself:

  • What kind of work do I want to do in the future?
  • What skills will I need?
  • Can I get a job right away or do I need more experience first?
  • What work environments are best for me?
  • How many hours can I work?

There’s a lot to think about when you leave school. Speaking with an employment consultant about jobs for people with an intellectual disability can give you the information and support you need to set you up for success.

What are my post school options?

If you don’t know what type of work you want to do, doing some work experience or volunteering is a good option. If you’re interested in a particular job or industry, you might want to undertake tertiary study or training. Or you might be ready to get into work straight away. Here are some common pathways leavers take after school:

1. Training and education

There are many training and education options after high school. These include TAFE, apprenticeships, university and VET courses. These options can help you prepare for work, learn new skills and gain qualifications. 

If you have no experience in a workplace, you might need to build your employment skills. For example, learning how to handle money, travelling to and from work on your own and how to be a good employee. These skills will get you ready for the workplace.

2. Work experience

Work experience is a great way to gain experience in a workplace. It’s also a good way to try out different types of jobs to see if they’re a good fit for you. You can put any work experience you do on your resume. This will show potential employers that you have the skills and experience needed when you apply for a job.

3. Volunteering

If you want to gain work experience while contributing to a good cause, volunteering is a good option. Many not-for-profit organisations need volunteers and some local businesses accept volunteers too. This is a good chance to meet others in your community and pursue any interests you have. You can put volunteering on your resume when applying for jobs in the future.

4. Paid work

If you already have some skills and experience, you might be able to find paid work straight away after high school. You can search for job opportunities yourself online or by asking people in your community. You can also get support looking for work through government funded programs like Disability Employment Services or Workforce Australia.

Where can I get support?

There are a number of government-funded support programs that you can access at no cost if you are eligible. These include:

1. Disability Employment Services

Disability Employment Services (DES) helps find jobs for people with an injury, illness or disability. If you are currently in year 11 or 12 and planning to find a job after school, you could be eligible for school leaver employment services through a DES provider. 

Your provider will help you with:

  • Career advice and planning
  • Preparing for employment
  • Finding suitable job opportunities
  • Applying for jobs
  • Accessing workplace accommodations and funding

You can access Disability Employment Services through Centrelink or by contacting a provider in your area directly.

2. Transition to Work

Transition to Work is the mainstream program for young people who are looking for work. If you aren’t eligible for Disability Employment Services, you may be able to get support through the Transition to Work program. You’ll get one-on-one support and tailored services to prepare you for employment. That includes access to work experience, internships and volunteer opportunities.

3. NDIS School Leaver Employment Support

If you are an NDIS participant in year 12, you may be eligible for School Leaver Employment Support. You’ll get tailored support that aligns with your goals for after school and beyond. Build your independence, get work experience and feel confident about your next steps after school.

Funding and financial support

You could be eligible for a number of payments and funding programs to support you in your journey.

1. Disability Support Pension

Young people living with disability may be eligible for the Disability Support Pension when they turn 16. This is a payment to help people living with a permanent disability that stops them from working or reduces the number of hours they can work. You can still do some work while on the Disability Support Pension. 

2. Employment Assistance Fund

The Employment Assistance Fund can help if you need workplace accommodations or equipment to help you do your job. This could include funding for physical changes to the workplace, information and communication devices and specialist services.

3. Mobility Allowance

The Mobility Allowance is a payment to cover travel costs for people who can’t use public transport without a lot of support. You need to be 16 years or older and working, looking for work or studying to be eligible.

Ensuring a successful transition

Leaving school can be both exciting and daunting. You might know exactly what you want to do after school. Or you might still be figuring it out. Whatever your situation, it’s important to ask for help and get support along the way. Parents, teachers, mentors and employment consultants can all provide information, advice and support. A strong support network will help you feel confident about setting and achieving your goals once you leave school.

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