The names of the individuals in this story have been omitted to ensure their privacy.
The start of the school year can be an exciting and challenging time for students and their families.
My family and I went through this same experience when our son prepared to enter his last year of high school. As a student with a disability, we knew there might be barriers ahead. After years of having the support of the school system, the end of high school brought uncertainty as our son prepared to transition into adulthood.
Students like our son need more time to develop skills, both soft and hard, so it is critical to start as young as possible.
Fortunately, Vecova’s Youth Program provided transition support to our family and worked with him to develop employability skills and find a work placement at a local hardware store.
Work experience in high school is an invaluable building block, and Vecova has been exceptional in its organized, professional and tailored approach.
This tailoring has resulted in a positive experience that has boosted our son’s confidence, his independence, his ability to interact with supervisors, co-workers and customers, and his overall desire to secure paid employment after high school.
However, my family and I aren’t the only ones on this journey. Across Alberta, youth with disabilities and their families are facing increased uncertainty this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on employment in the province, and youth with disabilities and barriers to employment have been hit especially hard.
For some students the pandemic interrupted work experience terms, and has limited opportunities for paid employment after high school. Current statistics make these opportunities even more difficult to attain:
- Before the pandemic, youth with disabilities were employed at far lower rates than youth without disabilities – 36.4% compared to 53.9%.
- In 2017, there were approximately 108,790 youth with disabilities who were Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET).
- Of these youth, 83,440 were able or looking for work. Due to the pandemic, these numbers are anticipated to be much higher.
A gift from you today will provide students like my son with the support they need to realize their goals for the school year and their dreams for the future. Your support will ensure youth with disabilities have the knowledge, skills and experience needed to better position themselves for employment and achieve their career goals.