School Leavers With Verified Disabilities: Issues Influencing Transition to Employment in Non-Metropolitan Communities

School Leavers With Verified Disabilities: Issues Influencing Transition to Employment in Non-Metropolitan Communities

Helena Stark
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 40
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2901-0.ch016
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


Globally, young adult employment rates have declined in the 21st century. In Australia, youth from non-metropolitan areas have a lower engagement rate in employment than their metropolitan peers, despite one rarely hearing declarations from school leavers that they aim to be unemployed and never work. This chapter investigates transition outcomes for young adults from a non-metropolitan area through a small retrospective study. The purpose is to identify influences that may impact youth engagement in employment or training for school leavers in a small town, and that may be dissimilar from influences affecting their metropolitan counterparts. Research also focuses on the influences affecting transition to employment for school leavers with verified disabilities in non-metropolitan areas and what barriers they experience to accessing employment or study.
Chapter Preview


“What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question is frequently asked of young children and teenagers. Many little boys reveal their desire to be a fireman and little girls may dream of being a nurse or a hairdresser. One does not expect to get a response of “I aim to be unemployed and never work”. Work is an activity that keeps us busy in life and provides financial, social, emotional and health benefits. The researcher discovered over a number of years anecdotal feedback within non-metropolitan communities that many school leavers were not meeting their aspirations of being the fireman or nurse and were instead falling by the wayside in progressing on to life outcomes and involvement they had grown up to expect.

Conversations with school leavers and their families from a non-metropolitan school provided anecdotal feedback of limited job opportunities and limited resources to support transition to work or study. This prompted the researcher to investigate the veracity of these claims with a small cohort study to identify where school leavers transitioned to following their exit from school. The purpose of the research was to identify factors that improved transition opportunities and the issues identified as limiting movement for school leavers from non-metroplitan areas.

The assumptions of society are that people will transition to work after school and contribute to society. The Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA, 2008) asserts that an expectation in Australia is for all young Australians to become successful learners, who are informed and active citizens in society and are confident, creative individuals. No longer however is progression from school to work a guarantee for young people and for a proportion of this current generation of youth they do not have the luxury of full employment. School leavers from rural areas often face different challenges for finding employment compared to those finishing school in the city. Even less opportunities are reported around employment and engagement for school leavers with disabilities in small towns. This small retrospective cohort study investigates the transition outcomes and the influences affecting employment opportunities for both disabled and non-disabled school leavers from a non-metropolitan area.

Objectives of the research study:

  • Identify transition outcomes for school leavers from a non-metropolitan school in comparison to outcomes for school leavers from metropolitan schools.

  • Identify the transition outcomes of school leavers with verified disabilities from a non-metropolitan school in comparison to the outcomes of school leavers with no verified disability.

  • Identify barriers that limited successful transition to study or work for school leavers from a non-metropolitan school.

  • Identify influences that enhanced successful transition for school leavers from a non-metropolitan school to study or the workforce.



The author has held an interest in preparing students for work or study readiness beyond their school career since helping her own children and a number of their school friends’ transition to university. Adopting a role within her school to assist school leavers with disabilities (SLWD) prepare for the workforce had become a progression of her interest area into both work and research. This project was instigated due to her role as a special education high school teacher involved in careers lessons and the management of students’ work experience placements and traineeships. Her role included mentoring students through their journey of identification of their career interests and progressed to advocating for and supporting students in their search for jobs and training options. Many students required career and transition guidance as they have minimal direction for post school transition outcomes from their personal home environments.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Metropolitan: A large city – in the context of this article, a city with a population base of more than 80,000.

QCE: The Queensland Certificate of Education is the certificate awarded to students completing their secondary schooling in Queensland. The QCE was introduced in 2008, to replace the Senior Certificate. It is currently issued by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority. A statement of achievement in Board and School subjects for a year 12 school leaver.

Transition: In the context of this paper transition is the process of finishing school and the progression of the school leaver to what they do after leaving school, for example, commencing study or work as a school leaver.

Traineeship: A student receives payment for work with an employer and completes work-related theory and training modules through a recognized trainer to support the employment. Traineeship may consist of one or more days per week employment over a period of one or more years. Usually the employment is only for a defined period of hours until the trainee completes the required hours and/or theoretical competencies. An employer may offer ongoing employment following the completion of the traineeship.

Non-Metropolitan: A town with a small population base of no more than 8,000 servicing a rural catchment area.

VET Course: Vocational Education and Training courses that can include study for literacy and numeracy or could extend to traineeships and apprenticeships.

QCIA: Queensland Certificate of Individual Achievement. A certificate awarded to a student on completion of year 12. The certificate provides a statement of the goals the student has achieved upon completion of their high school education.

Verified Disability: Disabiilities within Education Queensland are identified in the categories of Intellectiual Impairment, Vision Impairment, Hearing Impairment, Physical Impairment, Speech Language Impairment and Austism Spectrum Disorder. A student enrolled in a State School has a verified disability if official State verifiers confirm that the disability impedes the students learning. A verified disability within Education Queensland is a smaller subset of more general disabilities as defined within the general community.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: