World Youth Skills Day- Guest Blog: Employment Project for Individuals with FASD

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The United Nations International World Youth Skills Day is celebrated annually on July 15th.  The United Nations states, “Rising youth unemployment is one of the most significant problems facing economies and societies in today’s world.” Youth, aged 15 to 24 are almost three times more likely than adults to be unemployed. They constantly face issues such as low quality employment, job insecurity, inequality within the job market, and longer transitions between school and full time employment.

 Education and training are essential to helping youth develop the skills necessary to achieve quality, sustainable employment. We need inclusive opportunities for quality education to build skills for all youth, including those with FASD, to ensure everyone has the ability to contribute to our society. World Youth Skills Day was created to raise awareness of youth unemployment rates, and mobilize action to combat this issue. Share your thoughts this July 15th using the hashtags #WYSD2019 and #YouthSkills and check out the events in your area celebrating World Youth Skills Day. 

Employment Project for Individuals with FASD, has been submitted by Aamena Kapasi.

Aamena Kapasi is a PhD student in School and Clinical Child Psychology at the University of Alberta. Aamena has a passion for both research and clinical work with children, youth, and families. Aamena began working on the employment project in 2017, and recently presented the project at the 24th National Supported Employment conference in Montreal. Aamena looks forward to continuing to conduct research in interventions and supports for individuals with FASD.

Employment Project Overview
Employment is important for many reasons, including providing an income, opportunities to connect with others, a means of developing oneself, and it can increase self-esteem and quality of life. With appropriate supports, individuals with FASD can obtain and maintain employment. The CanFASD Network in partnership with the Government of Alberta, PolicyWise, and the University of Alberta developed a project to better understand the employment experiences of individuals with FASD, the needs of community employment agencies, and the ways in which a structured approach can help to support individuals with FASD to obtain and maintain employment.

Employment Success Study
We developed this research study to better understand employment success in adults with FASD. The aim of this study was to give a voice to the experiences of employment success for individuals with FASD. Adults with FASD, their caregivers, and their support professionals completed a survey about the employment journeys of adults with FASD.

Key findings from the survey responses revealed four factors that were important conditions of employment success for adults with FASD:

  1. Finding the right job fit
  2. Using relationship supports, including friends, family, and co-workers
  3. Identifying as having FASD at work
  4. Responding to specific workplace challenges by using accommodations

Respondents to the survey also identified four core success outcomes:

  1. Increased autonomy through remuneration
  2. Building self-esteem
  3. Developing social connections
  4. Becoming advocates for FASD

When individuals with FASD work in accommodating and supportive employment environments, they experience opportunities for a variety of positive outcomes. However, we learned that supporting an adult with FASD in their employment journey can be complex and difficult, and a resource to help guide those supporting individuals with FASD was needed.

Employment Guide
We used information gathered from previous literature, the employment success study, and collaboration with community agencies to create an employment guide for assisting professionals working with adults with FASD. The employment guide that was developed provides a standardized process for assisting employment professionals as they help clients with FASD prepare for, obtain, and maintain employment. The guide is a collection of checklists and prompts that help employment professionals understand their client’s overall well-being and employment related needs. After the guide was developed, it was piloted with community agencies in Alberta.

The feedback from piloting the guide revealed that professionals sought additional information to assist in using the guide in their current practice. It was important to include the shared expertise of employment professionals, caregivers, employment organizations, and individuals with FASD in the guide to make it as comprehensive, accurate, and valuable as possible. In January 2019, employment professionals, caregivers, government officials, researchers, and others in the fields of employment and FASD were invited to attend an employment initiative meeting to contribute their wisdom and experiences to the further development of the employment guide. Following this initiative meeting, the guide was revised and a version 2 is now available with added information and suggestions. We engaged with many invested, collaborative, and positive stakeholders throughout this project and we owe our gratitude to the many individuals with contributed their time, effort, and perspectives to this project.

For more information about the CanFASD employment study and to access the employment guide, please go to the CanFASD website and look under the employment section.


One Comment on “World Youth Skills Day- Guest Blog: Employment Project for Individuals with FASD”

  1. This piece is missing in my daughter’s life. She has found success and happiness in being a mom. The problem is she is expecting number three. It is not a great situation. I wish she’d had a better time in school. She never found anything that she could be successful at.

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