Transitions to Tertiary Education and Work for Youth with Disabilities

This report addresses the lack of data on pathways followed by young adults with disabilities beyond secondary education in most OECD countries. It describes the activity undertaken by a sample of Czech, Danish, Dutch, French and Norwegian young adults with disabilities and its evolution, as well as looking into the factors that have facilitated or hindered high-quality transition processes to tertiary education and employment. Do upper secondary schools enable students with special educational needs to move successfully to tertiary education and employment? Are young adults with disabilities supported appropriately when leaving upper secondary schools? Do universities’ and colleges’ admission and support strategies foster transition to and success within tertiary education?

The report shows that young adults with disabilities who left upper secondary education in 2007 have mostly accessed tertiary education, while those leaving tertiary education the same year have mainly entered the labour market. It also reveals that due to low-quality support at upper secondary level and the relative absence of transition issues in upper secondary schools’ policies and strategies, transition to tertiary education and to employment is closely linked with parental support and involvement, and young adults with disabilities coming from a low socio-economic background have less transition opportunities than those coming from a high socio-economic background. It demonstrates that young adults with disabilities who moved on to tertiary education consider they have gained the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers, as well as self-confidence and better inclusion opportunities.

This report also shows that persistent inactivity beyond secondary education has a strong disaffiliation effect. It restricts individuals’ participation opportunities and deprives individuals from social and economic independence as well as from personal well-being.

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