factors that predict employment for transition

Michele Capella McDonnall & Jamie O’Mally
Contributor: J. Martin Giesen
The National Research & Training Center
on Blindness & Low Vision
Mississippi State University
Funded by NIDRR Grant #H133A070001
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
The Problem
• Although we know that low levels of employment
are a problem, empirical research in this area is
• 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
• Identification of factors associated with future
employment can help in the planning of effective
transition programs.
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
▫ Vocational Rehabilitation Case Service Report
(RSA-911 Data)
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)
Factors Studied
Outcomes = Employment
• LSVRSP – employment or not at end of VR
• 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
Factors Studied
• 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)
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)
• Clearly the most important predictor of future
employment in all four databases was early work
• 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
parental support/expectations
independent travel skills
• 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
• For youth with prior work experience, whether
they found their job independently or not was a
predictor of future employment (NLTS2).
• 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 (selfdetermination subscales)
Characteristics of Early Work?
• Some of these results made us contemplate
whether all early work experiences are created
• 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.
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).
Early Work: Quantity & Length
• While it is important to have multiple job
experiences, the length of those jobs is also
• 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.
Job Search: Independent vs. Assisted
• Students who found jobs independently in the
past were more likely to be employed in the
• Why?
Better job-seeking skills
Larger network of professional contacts
Increased self-efficacy leading to more experience
Personal motivation
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
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.
• 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!
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.
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?
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
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?
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?
Input from audience on future
• Suggestions for other directions for future
• Issues that exist regarding early work
experiences for this population that we haven’t
• Tell us, from a practitioner’s standpoint, what we
need to consider when conducting this research.
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:
▫ http://www.blind.msstate.edu/transition/

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