Negotiating the school to work transition

By Matthew Ford

The full article is available in the following formats

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One of the toughest transitions for people with Down syndrome and their families can be when the school years finish and the search for employment begins. Matthew Ford of Disability Services Consulting gives us an overview of the different paths available to students who want to move into work including a closer look at the NDIS School Leavers Employment Support (SLES).

Links referred to in the print journal can be found below.


‘Perhaps the first thing to say about planning a young person’s transition to work is to start as early as possible – in years 9 or 10 rather than 11 or 12. Engage the school staff and potential post-school employment providers to explore employment or further education goals, strategies to realise these goals and the local network of services who can help.’

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Further reading

Ticket to Work:

University of Western Sydney ‘Get Ready’ workbooks:

Disability Employment Services:

Sarah Gingfold’s profile of three self-employment stories:

NDIA info on choosing a SLES provider:


[1] Smith, P., McVilly, K., McGillivray, J., Chan, J. 2018b. Developing open employment outcomes for people with an intellectual disability utilising a social enterprise framework. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 48(1) 59–77.

[11] ICF International, Customized employment competency model.

Down Syndrome Australia’s Employment Inclusion Toolkit is also full of great tips and information on making the transition to work.

You can find it here:

Do you have an employment story to tell?

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