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PREDICTING EMPLOYMENT FOR TRANSITION-AGE YOUTH WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS: RESEARCH RESULTS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS Michele Capella McDonnall & Jamie O’Mally.

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Presentation on theme: "PREDICTING EMPLOYMENT FOR TRANSITION-AGE YOUTH WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS: RESEARCH RESULTS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS Michele Capella McDonnall & Jamie O’Mally."— Presentation transcript:

1 PREDICTING EMPLOYMENT FOR TRANSITION-AGE YOUTH WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS: RESEARCH RESULTS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS Michele Capella McDonnall & Jamie O’Mally Contributor: J. Martin Giesen The National Research & Training Center on Blindness & Low Vision Mississippi State Universit y Funded by NIDRR Grant #H133A070001

2 The Problem Low levels of employment among this population have long been a concern of blindness professionals Data from the 2011 Current Population Survey has documented the severity of the problem: ▫ Youth with VI aged 16 to 19  26.8% are in the labor force  48.6% are unemployed  Employment-population ratio is 13.7, compared to 35.8 for population without VI ▫ Youth with VI aged 20 to 24  48.8% are in the labor force  26.5% are unemployed  Employment-population ratio is 35.8, compared to 61.0 for population without VI

3 The Problem Although we know that low levels of employment are a problem, empirical research in this area is limited Transition programs are offered in every state (through VR and/or private agencies), in addition to the transition services offered by schools. Because research is so limited, the contents of these programs are not based on empirical evidence and results of the programs are generally not evaluated empirically. Identification of factors associated with future employment can help in the planning of effective transition programs.

4 Research Already Conducted Four national databases (three of them longitudinal) were used to identify factors associated with future employment for youth with VI: ▫ The Longitudinal Study of the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program (LSVRSP) ▫ The National Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) ▫ The National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 (NLTS2) ▫ Vocational Rehabilitation Case Service Report (RSA-911 Data)

5 Description of Samples LSVRSP – VR consumers with a primary or secondary code of VI who were 21 years old or younger at application (max N = 41) NLSY97 – Participants in the study who indicated they had trouble seeing and that this limited their activities (N = 140; 623 observations) NLTS2 – Special education students (in secondary school at the start of the study) with VI as their primary disability (max N = 250); sample limited to those who were not currently in post-secondary school at Wave 4 RSA-911 – VR consumers with a primary code of VI who were 21 years old or younger at application, whose case was closed in FY 2010 (N =2282)

6 Factors Studied Outcomes = Employment LSVRSP – employment or not at end of VR program NLSY97 – number of annual hours worked (5 years of data included) NLTS2 – employment or not at Wave 4, defined both as employment at 20 hours or more, and employment at 35 hours or more RSA-911 – employment or not at end of VR program

7 Factors Studied Predictors Early work experiences (All) School-sponsored work/School-to-work programs (NLSY97, NLTS2) Academics/Education – (All) Self-determination (LSVRSP, NLTS2) Internal locus of control (LSVRSP) Self-esteem/Self-confidence (LSVRSP, NLTS2) Use of assistive technology (LSVRSP, NLTS2)

8 Factors Studied Predictors (cont.) Parental support/expectations (NLSY97, NLTS2) Health (NLSY97, NLTS2) Severity of vision loss (NLTS2, RSA-911) Receipt of SSI benefits (NLTS2, RSA-911) Transportation difficulty (NLTS2) Social skills (NLTS2) Independent travel skills (NLTS2)

9 Results Clearly the most important predictor of future employment in all four databases was early work experiences. The number of work experiences was a significant predictor in the three it was available in. Academic competence or education was a significant predictor in all four databases. There was also support for the importance of: ▫ transportation difficulty ▫ self-determination ▫ parental support/expectations ▫ independent travel skills

10 Results Receipt of SSI benefits was not important when work experience was considered in the NLTS2 database, but was in the RSA-911 database. There was partial support for the importance of social skills (NLTS2), but only with one variable in the multivariate model predicting part-time work. For youth with prior work experience, whether they found their job independently or not was a predictor of future employment (NLTS2).

11 Results Partial support for the importance of use of assistive technology – in LSVRSP but not NLTS2. Variables not related to future employment: ▫ School-to-work programs ▫ Self-esteem/self-confidence ▫ Empowerment & self-realization (self- determination subscales)

12 Characteristics of Early Work? Some of these results made us contemplate whether all early work experiences are created equal… Most research has not given attention to the specific characteristics of youth’s early work experiences. Many youth with VI do report some work experience during high school, but the quality of those experiences is uncertain. The finding about SSI receipt in NLTS2 also encouraged further investigation of that variable.

13 NLTS2 Follow-up Study - Results The following increased the likelihood of future employment for post-HS youth: ▫ Having multiple early work experiences ▫ Holding early jobs for longer periods of time ▫ Finding jobs independently in the past School-sponsored work was not related to securing employment in the future. Youth receiving SSI benefits were much less likely to hold a paid job than those not receiving SSI benefits (in Wave 3, but not Wave 2).

14 Early Work: Quantity & Length While it is important to have multiple job experiences, the length of those jobs is also important. Why? ▫ Longer job tenure provides evidence of basic skills necessary to maintain employment. ▫ Multiple jobs offer opportunities to: enhance a variety of job skills, improve job search and interview skills, build a record of work history, and expand professional networks.

15 Job Search: Independent vs. Assisted Students who found jobs independently in the past were more likely to be employed in the future. Why? ▫ Better job-seeking skills ▫ Larger network of professional contacts ▫ Increased self-efficacy leading to more experience ▫ Personal motivation

16 School-Sponsored vs. Paid Work Early paid work predicts future employment, but school-sponsored (S-S) work does not. Why? ▫ Youth with secondary disabilities may be more likely to have S-S work and have more difficulty finding jobs later. ▫ But, perhaps S-S work facilitates independent paid work later in high school – many youth who participated in S-S work also participated in paid work.

17 SSI Recipients Youth receiving SSI were less likely to hold a paid job or engage in productive activities than those not receiving SSI, during Wave 3 but not Wave 2. Why? ▫ As youth get older, they may worry more that paid employment would threaten their SSI benefits. ▫ Especially for youth in low-income households, the stability of SSI may be preferable to seeking employment in an unstable economy.

18 Implications Early work experiences are the most important factor in predicting future employment. Other factors include: academics, education, transportation issues, self-determination, parental support/expectations, and independent travel skills. Not all early work experiences of youth with VI are equally beneficial. Specific characteristics of early work matter!

19 What Can We Do? Encourage high school students to pursue paid employment instead of school-sponsored work, when possible. Emphasize the importance of working a few different jobs in high school for longer periods of time, rather than multiple short term jobs. Cultivate independent job seeking skills. Counsel students and parents about benefits of early work. Inform students and parents about incentives that allow students to work without affecting SSI.

20 Feedback from audience What do you think about these findings? Do you agree with implications? Do these findings “jive” with what you know from experiences with students?

21 Proposed Future Research Directions Given that early work experiences are important, we need to know what predicts obtaining these experiences: ▫ Identify malleable factors that predict obtaining early work experiences More information about the types of work experiences that are most related to future employment is needed: ▫ Identify characteristics of early work experiences that are most important to future employment

22 Potential Research Questions Does participation in school-sponsored work precede or facilitate participation in paid work experiences? Is this true only for a certain type of student? Do parental expectations/support predict paid work experiences in high school? Do job search techniques utilized predict paid work experiences in high school? How much is networking utilized as a job search technique by youth with VI?

23 Potential Research Questions Does education level affect the relationship between characteristics of early work experiences and future employment? Which is more important to future employment: job length or number of jobs held? Are youth with visual impairments more likely to engage in freelance employment than employer jobs? Are freelance jobs as valuable to future employment as employer jobs are?

24 Input from audience on future directions Suggestions for other directions for future research? Issues that exist regarding early work experiences for this population that we haven’t considered? Tell us, from a practitioner’s standpoint, what we need to consider when conducting this research.

25 Thank You! Thank you for your participation and feedback! If you have other ideas, please contact us. See our website for information about the articles that were published and other products from this NIDRR Transition grant: ▫


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