Improving employment outcomes for young people with disability: insights from the P2E program trial

Deborah Warr, Liam Fallon, Andrew Thies and Amber Mills

How might a mainstream youth employment program be adapted to meet the needs of young people with disability?

At a glance

Pathways to Employment (P2E) was a small, proof-of-concept trial to test the efficacy of mainstream employment pathway support for young people in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Despite implementation constraints associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the evaluation shows that the P2E trial generated encouraging results for participants, notably by increasing confidence and shifting attitudes about their capability and their employment prospects.

Dive deeper

P2E was based on the enhanced Transition to Work (TtW) model developed by BSL and implemented by a national TtW Community of Practice. Applying an Advantaged Thinking approach, the program linked up with NDIS Local Area Coordination(LAC) services to create a referral pathway for young people with disability to recognise their talents and pursue employment goals. It also connected participants with employment-related resources, opportunities and networks.

P2E was intended to function as a bridging program to integrate ‘supply-side’ activities to build jobseekers’ capacities with ‘demand-side’ activities to create employment opportunities. However COVID lockdowns meant that delivery of the trail was largely restricted to an online mode and activities to engage local employers were limited.

The P2E program model contributed to positive outcomes for participants. The Advantaged Thinking practice which informed the model was helpful in ‘undoing’ the effects of negative community attitudes, including low expectations of the capacities of people with disability, which are absorbed by young people with disability.  

The trial generated an encouraging number of education and employment outcomes. The young participants also reported increased confidence, reduced feelings of stress, the development of work-related skills, and motivation to pursue work and careers. 

P2E showed the value of linking into LAC planning processes to identify and refer young people with employment goals into a mainstream employment program.

The evaluation identified challenges to be considered when developing future iterations of the model. These included:

  • TtW eligibility
  • incentives for employers
  • implications of young people’s support requirements for program duration, intensity and caseloads
  • the need to recognise individual starting points when measuring outcomes
  • potential to engage families in Advantaged Thinking.

Last updated on 1 March 2023