Talking about tomorrow


Getting a Job

Some people find it hard to imagine their young person finding, or keeping, a job. You might feel this even more when other people assume a disabled young adult won’t have many options, if there isn’t much support where you live, or if you don’t know any disabled people who are working.

Doing something meaningful

If a job seems unrealistic right now, find activities and occupations that give structure and meaning to your young person’s week. Building social and organisational skills, connecting to the community and developing confidence are all a good use of time no matter what, and may open other doors later on.

Getting started

It’s hard to imagine what work you’d like when you don’t have any experience. Some schools can be helpful in arranging work placements but others are less good at finding the right opportunities.

Try asking people you know if your young person could help out or shadow them at work for a few hours. If they would struggle to do that on their own, go with them or ask someone else to help. Even half an hour can be worth it to begin with, if it gives them experience of getting there and being in an unfamiliar environment

Vocational courses are a good way to experience life in the workplace. Click here for more information on learning by doing.

Don’t be afraid to email or pick up the phone and ask if someone could let your young person visit the workplace or try something out. The worst they can say is no! You should be honest about the impact of someone’s disability, and maybe have a few suggestions of your own for how to tackle possible challenges.


Volunteering can be a good way of learning new skills and seeing how other people work, and again you can start with as little as half an hour and build up gradually.

Often the best way to find volunteering opportunities is simply to ask an organisation directly. You could also check local websites or noticeboards. Be clear about what your young person can offer, as well as how they’ll benefit from the chance to be involved. If they will need support, work out in advance how that can be provided and what part you might need to play.

Volunteer Scotland can give you lots of information and tips. 

My World of Work

Skills Development Scotland is the national agency for careers advice and planning, offering information, advice and guidance in school and in careers centres throughout the country.

Click here to find your local careers centre. Many have designated staff for people with additional support needs.

The website My World of Work lets people research jobs and do a quiz to get ideas of possible career paths – though as it doesn’t take additional support needs into account you might find some suggestions aren’t appropriate. Click here to go to the ‘About Me’ quiz.

Paving the way

Many projects support disabled people to develop skills they need to find work – your nearest Job Centre or Skills Development Scotland office can tell you about ones near you.

Find out about the help employers can get with making adjustments for someone with a disability. They may not know, and it could make the difference if they’d like to employ a disabled person but aren’t sure how to go about it.

The Scottish Government has committed to tackling the disability employment gap in their Fairer Scotland for Disabled People plan.


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