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Getting work experience

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Work experience is one of the best ways for people with intellectual disability to improve their chances of getting a job.

It helps young people in a number of ways, including to:

  • learn skills and build their confidence
  • find out what kinds of work they like and are good at
  • experience what it’s like to be a worker
  • show their families what is possible for their son or daughter.

Work experience is also a good way for employers to get to know a young person and see them as possible employees.

Older people with intellectual disability looking for work can also gain similar benefits from on-the-job experience.

What schools will do

Schools are responsible for organising work experience as part of the school-to-work transition. However, this is often only for a week or two during Year 10. This isn’t long enough to be effective for many young people with intellectual disability. Many young people benefit from extra work experience in years 11 and 12.

Also, some schools consider work experience in an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) to be most suitable for students with intellectual disability. Families need to be very clear that they expect their child to have work experience in open employment just like every other student.

What families can do

Families can help find and organise work experience. They can help the school find a suitable placement or they can find extra work experience for their young person. Families sometimes use personal or community connections to help find work experience.

Young people who have employment supports in their NDIS plan may be able to use these to find and get support for extra work experience.

Even if families find extra work experience placements, the school is still responsible for the administration, safety and supervision of the student. This includes the child safety requirements, emergency contact details and employer feedback (for their portfolio).

The school should also make sure that there is insurance cover for the work experience with the employer. This works differently in each state and territory. It’s always worth checking that this is in place.

An Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE) is a type of employment support for people with disability who need significant support to work.
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Open employment is when people with and without disability work together in regular jobs.
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