Practical School-To-Work Tips For Students With Disability
Making the leap from school into work or a vocation can be overwhelming, especially for students with disabilities who’ve spent years with a familiar schedule, environment, and support network.
Bedford, South Australia’s largest employer of people with disability, has five practical tips to help students access the best supports and services to be career-ready.
Review your NDIS Plan for employment supports
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funds a range of post-school support in areas such as:
- social and community participation
- building life skills
- mobility or communication technology
- further study
- finding and keeping a job
Employee Onboarding Specialist at Bedford, Jessica Jones, encourages NDIS participants to think outside of supports directly related to the classroom or workplace.
“If a student wants to increase their independence, the final years of school are a great time to engage with a support worker or mentor to build skills such as travelling on public transport, budgeting, money handling, social skills, and meal preparation – all of which can be accessed with NDIS funding,” she says.
Speak with your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or Support Coordinator about including the appropriate funding in your NDIS Plan.
Look for work experience opportunities
Take advantage of any work experience you can do while still at school. Your school might be able to support you during the placement, or you might be able to fund your own mentor through your NDIS Plan.
“The earlier you can familiarise yourself with the workplace, the less overwhelming the move into employment will be when you leave school,” Jess says.
“Work experience in a supported employment environment like Bedford gives students the time and space to complete work for well-known companies, without the pressure of having to learn a new skill quickly or the expectation to work at a fast pace.”
Through volunteering, you can meet new people, which widens your social network and can lead to other job opportunities. Volunteering is also a great way to gain new skills, build on previous work experience, and improve your confidence.
Some disability support providers, such as Bedford, offer volunteering opportunities at local organisations as part of their social and lifestyle services.
You can find volunteering options across SA here.
Check out employment expos near you
Struggling to get your head around all the supports, courses, and job opportunities out there?
Attending expos is a great way to see a number of options in one place, ask questions, collect information, and meet providers face-to-face.
You are likely to find a number of supported employment or disability support providers at yearly expos such as the Adelaide Careers and Employment Expo, and the Disability, Ageing and Lifestyle Expo.
Consider Government employment supports
Final-year students or recent graduates with disabilities may be eligible for ongoing support through the Australian Government’s Disability Employment Services (DES).
DES providers offer a range of specialist services including interview skills training, resume development, on-the-job assistance, and support for co-workers. Learn more about DES eligibility here.
Taking the time to think about your strengths, interests, and what type of environment you want to work in will help you become clear on the careers paths you want to explore. Combined with the tips above, you’ll build the skills and experience to confidentially step into work in no time!
Bedford offers a range of flexible work experience opportunities, jobs, and employment support services at 17 sites across the State. To learn more, check out their website or call 8275 0211.