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Teaching strategies that take into consideration the
student's preferred manner of learning will lead to positive outcomes
Access to quality vocational education. Is this a privilege? But
since it addresses many of society's inequalities by enabling access
into labour markets, perhaps it's more of a human right.
Over the past decade, the labour market has been going through a
great deal of structural change and as a result, people with
intellectual disabilities are now finding themselves even further
marginalised than before.
Ensuring that these people have real access to vocational training
has many benefits. It sustains the needs of the labour market,
benefiting our overall economy and increasing our GDP. Moreover, it
makes for a better society, with financial independence, a sense of
purpose and enhanced quality of life for more citizens.
To ensure students with intellectual disabilities have access to
vocational education, it's necessary that teachers have the expertise
and knowledge about the learning characteristics of these students.
They are not a homogenous group and have the same needs and
aspirations as everybody else in the community. Students have better
outcomes when provided with suitable instructional programs and
teaching strategies that engage as well as challenge them. The
teaching should be systematic and differentiated. This is best
achieved when the vocational teacher works alongside the specialized
Individuals with intellectual disabilities have their own
personality, areas of ability as well as areas of difficulty. Many
students require more time to process information and may have
difficulty with abstract concepts. Therefore, frequent revision and
over-learning strategies are good techniques that should be used. Also
linking an abstract concept with a realistic tangible example that the
student can relate to will allow the student a better chance of
remembering the concept. Tasks should be broken down and demonstrated
to the student who then should be given the opportunity to complete it
many times until he or she has mastered the activity. Teaching
strategies that take into consideration the student's preferred manner
of learning will lead to positive outcomes.
The teaching support should be provided without being intrusive and
drawing attention to the student. It's also important to bear in mind
that levels of assistance do need to be faded as the student begins to
demonstrate independence and competence. Our aim is to assist students
to become ready for employment. If students are not given the
opportunity to develop these skills they'll find it difficult to
obtain and sustain a job in the labour market.
To enable people with intellectual disabilities to navigate the
pathways required to enter the labour market it's important for all
stakeholders to work in partnerships that foster an atmosphere of
collaboration. The stakeholders here include the student, the
vocational education and training provider and disability employment
service and disability specialist staff.
In my 25 years working within training and disability employment, as
well as being a TAFE teacher, I've witnessed firsthand many times how
effective partnerships do lead to improved completion rates,
employment rates and improved quality of life for people with