European Pathways to Employment

European Pathways to Employment for Disabled Young People is a Strategic Partnership involving Petroc and Duveholms Gymnasiesärskola, a special school in Katrineholm, Sweden. The project has been funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme. The partnership have used their experience in their respective countries to review and investigate the most appropriate way to prepare disabled young people for meaningful employment. The context for this work is the fact that at a European level only 6% of disabled people are active in the labour market, significantly lower than average figures for their able-bodied contemporaries.

Project Activity

Over the course of 2 years partners conducted research into the best potential model for developing employability skills and delivering work experience for learning disabled students. Staff from both Petroc and Duveholms Gymnasiesärskola have taken part in a number of transnational meetings where they were able to visit each other’s college and speak to local students and employers to understand the different ways that learners with special needs prepared for their work experience.

They worked together to review a range of models used in the UK and Sweden including social enterprise, in-house internships and supported internships. Once they had analysed the characteristics and benefits of these, they developed a Career Pathway which sets out a flexible framework for developing employability skills. We have also developed and tested a range of resources which can be used with students before, during and after work placements to support them as they develop their skills. Both partners tested these workbooks with their students including 3 Petroc students who were able to travel to Sweden in May 2017 to undertake an intensive 5 day work placement with large supermarket chain ICA.  

Useful Resources

The Career Pathway and all of the resources are all transferrable to work in a range of settings and could be used by practitioners in any country. We are pleased to share our research and resources with you:

  • Research Report:
    Read about a wide range of delivery models for employability training used in the UK and Sweden to prepare disabled young people for employment. Includes a flexible Career Pathway which can be adapted to the needs of the individual student and/or organisation.
  • My Employability Workbook:
    Used when a student first arrives at college to establish their preferences, skills profile and gather input from tutors, parents and carers. This helps staff to match students to the appropriate work experience opportunities so that they have the chance to gain experience in a setting in which they are comfortable and appropriately supported but where they will also be able to learn and stretch themselves.
  • Student Work Placement Log Book:
    Used during work experience placements to review progress daily such as new skills gained and goal setting. Includes induction information, timesheets and an employability assessment. This is a useful tool to ensure they make progress throughout their placements and also provides a document of their achievements.
  • Employment Support Information:
    Essential information for employers to know when the student moves into the workplace as they leave college. Includes workplace support needs, information on how they learn best, strategies for helping them, skills and ambitions. This can be given to an employer at interview and also be used as they progress at work or as a useful tool for managing any change.

Project Impact

Though longer-term impact will be measured after the project has finished, we are pleased to confirm that students at Petroc and Duveholms Gymnasiesärskola have increased their employability and there is a promising increase in employment outcomes for supported learners, particularly in the UK. Staff have praised the resources, finding them easy to use and have been able to incorporate elements of the Career Pathway into their own delivery. By sharing both the research and resources with other training providers at a range of events organised both inside and outside of the partnership, these learnings will be incorporated into the practices of a wide range of organisations in the UK and Sweden.

The project was particularly successful in engaging with a range of stakeholders including employers, local government, other schools and colleges and organisations interested in social justice. As a result, the project has included mentions in parliament in both countries and the development of networks which will provide forums for sharing of best practice. The long-term aim of the project is to increase the job-skills and employability of young disabled people across Europe increasing their social well-being and reducing the disparity between he levels of employment between able-bodied and disabled young people.

Contact

If you are interested in finding out more about this project please contact ruth.shippobotham@petroc.ac.uk