Friday, 9 November 2012

Preparing for the world of work: an exploratory study of disabled students’ experiences of work

an article by Catherine Elizabeth Georgiou, Shima Espahbodi and Lorraine Hilary De Souza (School of Health Sciences and Social Care, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK) published in Journal of Education and Work Volume 25 Number 5 November 2012


For people with disabilities, one of the best ways to achieve independence is through work. Experience gained by undertaking a work placement whilst a student provides valuable knowledge and understanding of the demands of work, and enhances employability on graduation for both students with disabilities and for their non-disabled peers.

The aims of this study were to explore the experiences of disabled students who had undertaken work placements as part of their degree courses, and to determine if their experiences adequately prepare them for the world of work once they graduate.

A survey, using the Delphi method, was carried out to reveal the five most important positive and negative experiences of students with disabilities following completion of a work placement.

Fifty-one students entered the study and 42 completed all requirements.

The most important positive experience reported was “gaining experience/knowledge” and the primary negative experience was “demanding expectations”. The responses showed highly significant agreement (Kendall’s Co-efficient of Concordance; p < 0.001) for both positive and negative experiences.

Findings revealed that students with disabilities have similar work placement experiences to students in general. However, these experiences may have a greater impact on the abilities of students with disabilities to cope and to achieve.

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