1. Basic elements of Transition
The relationship between graduate, institution and employer is not simple. It depends on the way in which graduates have engaged with employability development opportunities provided by institutions, be they central support services, experiences embedded in the curriculum, work experience or opportunities to reflect on and record experience
The transition of students with disabilities from school to the labour market can be difficult for several reasons. Many of the barriers to employment of people with disabilities have a long history in social and political affairs of a country. Some of the particularly serious obstacles are:
- the prejudice that people with disabilities cannot be sufficiently prepared for a particular job,
- lack of awareness of employers,
- lack of appropriate policies to encourage employers to employ people with disabilities,
- unadapted spaces for work,
- lack of support services for persons with disabilities.
One way to improve the transition from school to the labour market is to empower students with disabilities. Characteristics such as self-determination, self advocacy and similarly have a more important role in the successful transition in relation to grades or test scores.
Self-Determination is concerned with supporting our natural or intrinsic tendencies to behave in effective and healthy ways. Self-determination is important for all people, including students with disabilities. The skills leading to enhanced self-determination, like goal setting, problem solving, and decision making, enable students to assume greater responsibility and control. Moreover, when students with disabilities show they can make things happen and take responsibility for planning and decision-making, others change how they view them and what they expect from them. People with disabilities have emphasized that having control over their lives, instead of having someone else make decisions for and about them, is important to their self-esteem and self-worth. Teach the skills and knowledge students need to become self-determined.
Important elements of self determination are:
- independence (managing to act independently in everyday life),
- self regulation (making decisions about how to act, to act, to evaluate the desirability of the outcomes of the action and to revise the plan (self monitoring, self instruction, self evaluation and self reinforcement),
- self realization (knowing the strengths and limitations and act accordingly), and
- psychological empowerment (achieving perceived or actual control in one’s life.
Self-Advocacy is, one form of advocacy, occurring any time people speak or act on their own behalf to improve their quality of life, effect personal change, or correct inequalities. Self-advocacy is referred to as the ability to articulate one’s needs and make informed decisions about the supports necessary to meet those needs.
Self-advocacy refers to:
- a) an individual’s ability to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate or assert his or her own interests, desires, needs, and rights. It involves making informed decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions;
- b) self-knowledge is the first step towards advocating for your rights.
Important elements of self-advocacy are:
- self-awareness (self awareness is having a clear perception of personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self Awareness allows understanding other people, how they perceive person, personal attitude and responses to other in the moment);
- knowledge of rights (Important parts of knowledge of rights are: community rights, human service rights, consumer rights, educational rights, steps to advocate for change and knowledge of resources);
- communication (is a process of exchanging information, ideas, thoughts, feelings and emotions through speech, signals, writing, or behaviour. Important parts of communication are: act with assertiveness, negotiation, understand and use body language, use of assistive technology, listen and compromise);
- leadership (is the ability to influence others toward the achievement of a goal. Important parts of leadership are: knowledge of group’s rights, advocating for others or for causes, knowledge of resources and organizational participation).
Employment is a relationship between two parties, usually based on a contract where work is paid for, where one party, which may be a corporation, for profit, not-for-profit organization, co-operative or other entity is the employer and the other is the employee. Employees work in return for payment, which may be in the form of an hourly wage, by piecework or an annual salary, depending on the type of work an employee does and/or which sector she or he is working in.
Important elements of employment are:
- personal information (use personal data information to complete forms and applications);
- job survey/assessment/career (career surveys help individuals obtain an in-depth awareness into oneself to make an informed career decision. Completing job surveys/ assessments to a) determine job interest and career areas or b) determine employability strengths and weaknesses,
- determine job roles and responsibilities, training, pay, availability and career outlook);
- behaviour on the job (demonstrating appropriate behaviour expected on the job (reporting on time, requesting services, use of leave time etc));
- job listings (selecting jobs from job lists and determine responsibilities, location, hours, pay and gain time);
- job seeking skills (list, plan and use various methods of seeking a job);
- job application (a consistent form with the same questions that must be answered by each person who applies for an open position);
- interviewing skills (are actions which candidates take during job interviews that make them competent.
2. Cooperation with Institutions and Associations
2.1 Cooperation with HEI and Academic staff
Higher education institutions intend to provide young people with a range of capabilities and skills that will prepare them to face transition into the labour market.
For persons with disabilities this kind of transition is often very challenging. One reason is the lack of support in this process. Therefore, it is documented that support services within the university environment could and should work on better preparation of students with disabilities for the transition from school to work and for a new life in the community. Universities should provide more support to students with disabilities in order to prepare them for the challenges that they face during their searching for job. They also play important role in connecting students with employers and making them more competitive on the labor market.
For all these reasons it is necessary that people who are the role of mentor and career advisor have in mind at least two things:
- Persons with disabilities, and therefore students with disabilities do not have special and specific needs in relation to individuals from the general population but a way of satisfying the needs is different
- Individualistic approach is crucial in the planning of career counseling and practicing of professional training.
The conclusion is that it is of major importance the role that mentors and career counsellors for students with disability as well as all the other students
2.2 Cooperation with Carieer Centers
Trans2Work project is being implemented in three countries and eight HEI. Each institution has a career center or office for support of students with disabilities (SwD).
The activities of the University Centre include:
- developing competencies, knowledge and skills of students which are crucial for their employment;
- provision of information to students on opportunities for additional education, scholarships in the country and abroad, and job offers;
- ensuring liaison of students and employers by organizing vocational practice and training programs in leading companies and organizations in the country for potential employment;
- organizing presentations on companies, their business ethics and recruitment policies;
- consultancy to students having dilemma with respect to choosing career or positioning at the labour market after graduation;
- other counselling services with respect to career development;
- coordination of work of career development centres at the faculties within the University;
- coordinating academic adjustments and support services,
- promoting independence and self-advocacy,
- roviding information and referral on mechanisms for the realization of the rights of students with disabilities.
2.3 Cooperation with the disability organizations (Association of SwD, other associations)
Within the Trans2Work project, cooperation with Associations of SwD have high importance. The Student Advisory Office offers its services to all individuals with legally recognized disabilities, as well as to those who are able to document the negative effect of health on their education. Assistance is offered whenever is proven that a health-related disability influences the process of learning. Activities of Association of Disabled students are:
- employment and internships or networking (establishing Alumni),
- organization of events and workshops (in cooperation with employers, universities, career centers, services for persons with disabilities).
2.4 Cooperation with national employment agencies
The results show that the employers do not dispose with sufficient conscience of PwD efficiency in the role of employees. This fact can be the consequence of prejudices about PwD but is also caused by the insufficient level of employer’s awareness about the working ability of PwD, specifically in stimulated and adapted environment. This can be a reason that mostly employers prefer to pay penalties instead to employ PwD.
There is a need to support SwD but there are also employers who employ or want to hire PwD. To meet their needs, it is necessary to:
- at an early stage of transition provide adequate assistance to SwD who are looking for work in order to overcome existing barriers;
- ensure the early development of skills and knowledge, as well as the availability of jobs in order to increase employability of SwD;
- provide that the transition from education to employment is easier and it is not subject to the risks; educate employers on the way to better understand PwD and to better comprehend what it means to recruit PwD;
- establish a centralized system which will comprehensively displays information of interest to the PwD, employers but also for institutions and centers of employment;
2.5 Examples of good practice
Due to good practice and positive experiences still allow us to learn, expand their knowledge and create new opportunities for themselves and others, below are examples of good practice in countries where the project is implemented.
- The Law on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities in Serbia, passed in 2009, is the key document that opens the possibilities for wider inclusion of persons with disabilities in the open labor market and it has contributed to awareness rising about their work capabilities and the fundamental right to work. The innovations introduced by this Law include:
- broader definition of disability, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
- new concept of assessment of PWD work capabilities; introduction of quotas for employment of PWD;
- new active labor market measures and programs;
- Tisa Automotive company, founded in March 2014 in Senta, is one of the most important joint, Serbian-Hungarian investments. Recognition for the employer who hired the highest number of people with disabilities National Employment Service granted to the company TISZA AUTOMOTIVE from Senta, which in 2016 hired 12 persons with disabilities from the NES evidence and thus made a significant contribution to the employment of persons with disabilities. The said company employed the largest number of people with disabilities using mediation services in employment, without the financial support of the NES
- “CM Ltd.” from Vitez is the largest drugstore retailed in BiH. It has been operating successfully for 13 years in more than 50 cities in BiH, throughout 72 outlets. Tendency of growth and advancement was marked primarily by beauty care for women, but also man. Despite the global and domestic economic crisis and market instability, CM increases its operations each year. CM is a socially-responsible company which had realized a number of projects for the welfare of the BH society in its previous activities. In the same manner the Company started co-operating with the Association “Life with the Down Syndrome”. This cooperation resulted with the employment of persons with Down syndrome. The employee and “CM Ltd.” signed contract in September last year and this is the first employment contract ever that a person with Down syndrome has signed with employer in Bosnia and Herzegovina.