July 15th is International World Youth Skills Day. Celebrated annually since 2014, this day recognizes the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, work, and entrepreneurships.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disabilities in North America, with approximately 4% of the population impacted. Individuals with FASD experience many challenges in their lives that may impact their ability to stay in the workforce. However, fulfilling employment opportunities are important as they help develop a positive identity, self-esteem, and self-worth and can reduce the risk of poverty and encourage individuals to become more inter-dependent.
Although people with FASD may face various challenges, it is important to note that they also bring numerous strengths to the workforce. Some of the common skills individuals with FASD bring to their work include creativity, friendliness, helpfulness, and generosity. Planning for work early for youth with FASD through a youth to adult transition plan can help youth recognize their talents, identify interests and build skills.
Employers need to recognize the skills that people with FASD bring to the workforce and help support youth to develop these skills. Employers can also recognize the challenges people with FASD face and provide accommodations. Youth with FASD are more likely to succeed in the workplace when the proper accommodations are in place. These might include:
- Providing reminders (i.e. alarms or written reminders) to support employees who may struggle with keeping track of time
- Creating and maintaining routine and consistency in the workplace and in their workload
- Providing clear and concise language and/or multiple demonstrations of tasks
- If possible, providing an on-site job coach, co-worker, or support worker to provide support, help, or advocacy
This World Youth Skills Day let’s recognize the contribution of youth with FASD to the workforce and encourage communities and employers provide training and education that enable individuals with FASD to develop the skills they need to succeed.