Post-school options for young people with disability

Nov 19, 2021 | Academy

You’re about to graduate from school and move into your adult life! The world is full of new possibilities. And some challenges you’ve never faced before!

This can be a very exciting time as you explore what to do with your future. It can also be a daunting time as you try to navigate all the different post-school pathways and find something that’s right for you.

If you plan to get a job in your future, there are many options out there. You might decide to look for a job straight away, or join a training program to give you more confidence.  Or you might decide that you’d like to build your skills through further study, or gain some experience through volunteering.

To help you decide on a future that’s best for you, we’ve put together a simple guide of different post school pathways to employment.

Jigsaw trainee sits at desks with papers in front of him. He's smiling at the camera.

Your options for a future in work 

Work is a great way to make a purposeful contribution, as well as earn money. How we choose to make our contribution will depend on our unique hopes, skills, abilities, interests, and personal situation. The list below includes options you could choose from. 

  1. Further education through TAFE or university 
  2. Supported employment
  3. Open employment
  4. Community and volunteer work

1. Further education through TAFE or university  

There are many post-school education and training options for school leavers who have a disability, including:

  • University – a higher education and research institution granting academic degrees in many subjects
  • TAFE – an Australia-wide organisation providing vocational education and training 
  • Vocational Education and Training (VET) – offering skills and training for specific jobs and industries 
  • Registered Training Organisations (RTO) – delivering VET programs with the Australian Skills Quality Authority 
  • Apprenticeships/Traineeships – providing qualifications through on-the-job training with an employer and classroom-based learning.

2. Supported employment 

Supported employment is a job where a person with a disability gets assistance with their work tasks. It includes support to do the work, learn new skills and set goals.

This type of job is through Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE). They are businesses that make products or provide services. They are  explicitly designed to provide employment to people with disability, but this employment is not paid at award-wage, and is not mainstream (you will not have colleagues who do not have a disability). 

    3. Open employment 

    Open employment is also called mainstream employment. It is where people with and without disability do their jobs together in the same workplace. 

    If this is your goal, it is important to make sure you think about what training and support you may require. 

    There are several pathways that people with disability can take to access open employment:


    Disability Employment Services (DES)

    DES providers can help you find jobs to apply to, and fill out applications. Their aim is to place people with disability into work. If you are already confident in your work-ready skills, this could be a good option. If you think you need a bit more support to build up your confidence and skills, you might want to consider joining a training pathway before, or alongside, enrolling with a DES.


    Specialised training pathways

    If you want to build up your job-ready skills and confidence before applying to jobs, you may want to find a work-readiness training pathway. This will give you support tailored to your abilities, interests and support needs. 

    In your last year of school, or when you leave, you can access NDIS funding called School Leaver Employment Support (SLES). You can use this funding to pay for a training pathway with a SLES provider of your choice.  

    Providers like Jigsaw can connect you with valuable vocational opportunities. This includes work experience, mentoring, on-the-job training, and skills like time management. We can also support your search for mainstream employment with job interview training, resume preparation and more.

    Jigsaw believes SLES enables a type of support that can best meet the needs of many school leavers with disability. It can help you to reach your potential in the world of work from day one.

    Only school leavers with an NDIS plan are eligible for SLES, but do not worry if you don’t have SLES funding, or if you left school more than two years ago. You can also access providers like Jigsaw with Core and Capacity Building NDIS funding, for example “Finding and Keeping a Job”. 


    4. Community or volunteer work


    Volunteering means giving your time freely to help a person, cause, or group. It’s an excellent way to expose yourself to new challenges, and gain job skills and work experience. Volunteering can also build your independence to transition into employment. It can even increase your well-being and reduce stress and loneliness.

    So many organisations rely on help from volunteers. It might be an animal welfare group, op shop, charity or community organisation like Meals on Wheels. 

    And you don’t have to go it alone. If you feel you’d like support to volunteer, you can apply for an NDIS-funded support worker through a package called Core funding, under the category of ‘Assistance with social and community participation’.

    About Jigsaw

    Jigsaw is a social enterprise that provides an innovative pathway to open employment for people with disability. By embedding a comprehensive skill-based training program within our commercial document and data management business, Jigsaw enables people with disability to achieve their employment goals at their own pace. Jigsaw’s holistic approach starts from the very basics of core work skills and supports trainees all the way through to transition to open employment with ongoing support and coaching once they have transitioned. 

    Jigsaw is located in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, with Canberra and Perth locations coming soon.