Innovative careers program wins award

 

Young people with disability are challenging limiting stereotypes and preparing for independent lives after school. A group of senior students at Naranga, a specialist school in Frankston, are proving that young people with disability are able to develop the skills needed for success in the world of work.

They are participating in a Careers Access Program (CAP), which recently won a Victorian Disability Services Award for excellence in employment outcomes. Developed with the support of the Frankston and Mornington Peninsula Local Learning and Employment Network (FMPLLEN) the CAP’s program aims to develop employability, build confidence and prepare young people for the workforce.

The Careers Access Program was developed after it was found that students at Naranga had limited knowledge of post school options. It involves a facilitated session every Monday morning with students in their senior years.  The students are guided through interview preparation, cold calling, industry visits, former student experiences, communication skills and employment categories.

The students are supported by a range of specialists including the National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO), a Disability Employment Service, School VCAL and Careers Coordinators, Futures for Young Adults Coordinator and the Structured Workplace Coordinator to observe and respond to their strengths, skills and learning needs.

The program has been delivered through Ticket to Work, a national initiative that supports young people with disability to transition from school to open employment with a localised approach that focuses on the needs and employment goals of each individual young person. Ticket to Work has achieved impressive results so far, with 86% of participants in employment 1-3 years post-school, and 100% with further education qualifications.

The Careers Access Program is based on evidence that coordinated exposure to work experience and work-focused learning while at school greatly increases employment opportunities and longer-term wellbeing post school. Additionally, the program allows service providers and community agencies to gather valuable information on what works for young people with disability when seeking employment.

 ‘Spending some time with the students has been a real learning curving for me.  It has really helped all the partners to see the unique strengths of the students and how they are all such diverse young people who deserve a chance to have a purposeful career,” said Sally Bailey, NDCO for the Frankston area. “Each student is very unique and the response is different for each of them. Discussions with partners have been much more targeted and meaningful as a result.”

The response from teaching staff has also been very positive.

“The program has been very informative and beneficial to our students. Understanding they have options and exploring different avenues has allowed students to question and seek answers in regards to their futures,” said Elaine Louder, a teacher at Naranga. “For myself, the knowledge and information offered by the partners has been invaluable and has created a great partnership and network for our school.”

Students have especially enjoyed the practical elements of the program.

“I really enjoyed the program, especially the industry tour to Morning Star and when the past students came and talked about what they were doing,” said Locky, a participant.

For more information on the Careers Access Program or Ticket to Work in Frankston and Mornington, contact Sally Bailey, NDCO, sbailey@skillsplus.com.au.