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More kids with visual impairment getting into work

The latest results long-term study show an increase in the number of young people with visual impairments entering employment.

The study has followed the experiences of the same group of young people with vision impairment from secondary school into further education and employment.

A total of 47 young people with vision impairment took part in the latest survey which showed nearly half of the participants are in employment between 2018/19 compared to 14 in 2017.

Four participants who had been NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) moved into employment but five that had previously been engaged in other activities became NEET.

Positively, three quarters (76%) said they had been in a form of paid employment at some point. Of those that hadn’t had any experience of paid employment nine had never searched for employment opportunities.

Of those that had looked for work during the 12 months between survey interviews:

  • 11 of the participants said they had been to a Job Centre to find a job, and five to access specialist support.
  • Four were told by Job Centre staff that they couldn’t help a person with a vision impairment. Four had their ability to work questioned by Job Centre staff and were advised that they didn’t need to work because of the benefits they received. Two described inaccessible systems and processes.
  • The study has consistently identified a low uptake of Access to Work, and in this round of interviews, only six of the participants in employment accessed this scheme.

The latest round of interviews demonstrates that participants are inching further towards the labour market. However, some of the young people with vision impairment remain in low level work or have become NEET since leaving their studies, and in several cases aren’t involved in any activities that might help them move closer to the labour market. More must be done to support these young people to fulfil their individual potential.

Professor Graeme Douglas, Head of the department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs, and co-director of VICTAR:

The Longitudinal Transition Study offers an extraordinary insight into the experiences of young people with vision impairment as they seek employment. It is wonderful to hear of their success which has resulted from their hard work and impressive range of skills, as well as the inclusivity and support of services and employers.

Charles Colquhoun, Chief Executive of Thomas Pocklington Trust:

This latest stage of the study shows welcoming news that more people involved in the study were in employment. However, much of this employment is short term or low paid work, and it has taken several years for these young people to transition into work.

It is concerning to read the experience some young people reported they had with Job Centre staff who claimed they couldn’t help a person with a vision impairment and the inaccessible systems and processes. It flags the need for more training with Job Centre staff to provide the support vision impaired young people need. We will continue to work with sector partners to tackle the unemployment gap and we eagerly await the final stage of this important research in mid-2020.

VICTAR and Thomas Pocklington Trust are calling for more sustained and continued support for young people with vision impairment to support them through education into employment. More details can be found in the full report.

Image: Thomas Pocklington Trust

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Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise communications.