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The education and employment of disabled young people

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Disabled teenagers hold the same aspirations to stay in education and find fulfilling careers as their non-disabled classmates, finds new research by LSE researcher Tania Burchardt for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. But while involvement in mainstream education, and the example set by successful disabled adults, may have encouraged them to aim high, many have had their ambitions frustrated by their mid-twenties and are left intensely disappointed in their ability to shape their own future.

The Education and Employment of Disabled Young People: frustrated ambition, published today (Wednesday 23 November), shows that the Government's key targets for improving educational attainment and raising employment rates among disadvantaged groups are far from being achieved for disabled young people.

Analysing two representative samples of people born in Britain during the 70s and 80s, Tania Burchardt, academic fellow at LSE, found that:

  • Despite having aspirations as high as their non-disabled counterparts, young disabled people get lower qualifications.
  • At age 26, disabled people were more than two and a half times as likely to be out of work as non-disabled people, even after taking account of differences in their educational qualifications.
  • For those in employment, earnings were 11 per cent lower than their non-disabled counterparts with the same educational qualifications implying discrimination in the workplace.
  • Encouragingly, the aspirations of disabled and non-disabled teenagers appear to have converged since the 1970s.

The study argues for attention to be directed towards removing barriers, sometimes based on direct or indirect discrimination, which disabled young people are experiencing when pursuing their ambitions. With many disabled young people reporting not getting the education or college place they wanted, the report urges for more support in the way of funding and equipment to help with their move from school to further education.

Evidence of disabled young people's low level of educational attainment highlights the need for more help to ensure that they are able to gain the qualifications that they aspire to. For those who don't, more opportunities and financial support should be available for them to return to education.

Programmes like New Deal for Disabled People and Pathways to Work are criticised as being misdirected for disabled young people since motivation is far from lacking. Work placements, combined with extending the availability of Access to Work to cover work experience, might prove to be more effective.

Tania Burchardt, author of the report, said: "It has been a struggle for young disabled people to gain recognition of their potential and to develop positive aspirations for playing useful roles in adult life. That achievement is certainly to be celebrated. But the fact that equality of opportunity in turning those aspirations into reality is still far from realised, leaves no room for complacency."

Ends

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Notes:

The Education and Employment of Disabled Young People: frustrated ambition by Tania Burchardt is published by The Policy Press and available from Marston Book Services, PO Box 269, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4YN (01235 465500) price £9.95 plus £2.75 p&p.

The research was based primarily on analysis of data from the 1970 British Cohort Study, a nationally representative study of all children born in one week in 1970 who are now in their mid-30s; and cohorts 9 and 10 of the Youth Cohort Study, a nationally representative study of people of school-leaving age, who were born in 1982/3 and 1984/5 who are now in their early 20s.

Press cuttings

Scotsman
Disabled teens' ambitions thwarted by discrimination (2 Dec 05)
Tania Burchardt, academic fellow at LSE and author of a report claiming that disabled teenagers are just as ambitious as their non-disabled classmates, said: 'It has been a struggle for young disabled to gain recognition of their potential and develop positive aspirations for adult life. That achievement is to be celebrated. But the fact that equality of opportunity in turning those aspirations into reality is still far from realised, leaves no room for complacency.'

Scotsman
Bias dashes disabled youths' hopes (30 Nov 05)
A report by Tania Burchardt, academic fellow at LSE, showed that by the age of 26, disabled people are nearly four times likelier to face discrimination and be out of work than non-disabled people of the same age.

BBC News Online
Disabled teens 'under-achieving' (23 Nov 05)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4463416.stm| 

Guardian
Report urges more practical support for disabled students (23 Nov 05)
Young disabled people have as much ambition as their non-disabled peers, but their aspirations for education and careers are being frustrated, according to a study published today.

Scotsman
Bias dashes disabled youths' hopes (23 Nov 05)
Disabled young people face discrimination when it comes to seeking college places and finding employment despite having the same aspirations as their able-bodied counterparts, a report reveals today. A report by Tania Burchardt, academic fellow at LSE, concluded that by the age of 26, disabled young adults were nearly four times likelier to be out of work than non-disabled people of the same age.
http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=2286162005| 

23 November 2005

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