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Dyslexia And Employment For Young People.


This blog is at it's best when different people are contributing!

Today I am really pleased to introduce you to our latest guest blogger, Dr Sheena Bell.

Sheena has been a lifelong supporter of people with dyslexia. She is Senior Lecturer in SEN and Inclusion at The University of Northampton, and a member of CeSNER Centre for Education and
Dr Sheena Bell
Research. Sheena came into higher education from a long career in teaching, with experience in a range of phases and settings ranging from primary education to prisons, and including teaching in Singapore and France.

Sheena writes...

Everything we know about dyslexia tells us that it is definitely not a barrier to successful employment. However, one of the most pressing issues facing all of us, which will continue in coming years, is the challenge of low rates of youth employment. It’s disappointing that, despite a number of government initiatives, in recent years we have failed to make a significant improvement on employment rates of young people coming out of schools and colleges. Dyslexia, as research has showed, should be no barrier to achievement and success in the workplace. Whilst it is important to choose a workplace which exploits our strengths and which avoids any major weaker points, common dyslexic difficulties such as reading at speed, processing information and producing written text can no longer be considered a significant barrier in the modern workplace. Some adjustments can be easily put in place, and computers have provided effective technical solutions to many of the difficulties which were once an issue. If a person with dyslexia has had appropriate support through the education system, it should be possible to make a reasonable self-assessment of strengths and weaknesses and balance these with our aspirations, by the time it comes to choosing a career. So, good dyslexia support should include a strong element of metacognition. (A word beloved of educators which basically means understanding how we think and learn). Support should also include elements of career guidance which provides clear information about what might be demanded in various workplaces.

Along with partners in Finland, Germany and the Czech Republic, we are running a cross European project called 'SENEL': Many companies are looking to extend their range of recruitment opportunities, as well as demonstrating their social responsibility. Led by the University of Northampton, the SENEL (Special Educational Needs and Employment Links) international project aims to engage with employers to improve the potential for entering employment of young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, in vocational training settings such as FE colleges.

As part of this we are producing a portable Exhibition of Best Practices. This will be consist of a range of inspirational materials you can print out and use, including posters and videos to implement aimed specifically at young people with diverse learning differences, including, of course, dyslexia. It is also really important to educate both employers and the general public about the potential benefits of employing young people with dyslexia - and the risks of NOT employing them! On our website we will soon be adding a series of posters showing success stories of young people with SEN, including a short film and a poster about two highly successful young people with dyslexia who have recently made the transition from college to the workplace.

Our ‘Passport to Employment’ for students will help highlight students’ strengths to employers, helping maximise their skills in the workplace. This could be developed during a young person's education and will be a great way of developing self-confidence for job seeking and interviews. Sadly, research has shown that many young people with dyslexia still do not receive appropriate support in time, and leave education feeling down trodden and inferior. The Passport will concentrate on their many positive talents and
achievements, whilst having some useful information about the very simple adjustments that employers may need to use.

All SENEL project materials are free and will be available to access from our website, in all project languages. Bear with us – as much of this work is in development!
For more information please follow us on Twitter (@SENEL_Europe), check us out on our website:  jamk.fi/senel

Or contact us directly: Sheena Bell sheena.bell@northampton.ac.uk to be put on our mailing list and invited to our presentation day in June 2017 when we will have completed our products!

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