Purpose: Employment of young adults with chronic physical conditions entering the labor market after finishing post-secondary education remains behind compared to typically developing peers. The aim of this study is to evaluate changes in their paid employment levels after following a vocational rehabilitation intervention (‘At Work’).
Materials and methods: Participants aged between 16 and 27 years (n = 90) were recruited via rehabilitation physicians and a jobcoach agency and participated in a vocational rehabilitation program. Cochran’s Q and McNemar tests served to test the development of intervention participants’ paid employment over time. Chi-square tests were used to compare intervention participants’ paid employment level with national reference data selected on age and having a self-reported chronic physical condition.
Results: Paid employment level of the intervention cohort significantly increased from 10.0% at baseline to 42.4% at 2-years follow-up (p < 0.001). At 2-years follow-up, their employment rates approached the employment rates of national reference data (42.4% versus 52.9%, p = 0.17).
Conclusion: Starting from a disadvantaged position, the paid employment rate of the intervention cohort substantially increased over time, approaching the employment rate of reference data. ‘At Work’ seems to be appropriate for supporting this specific group who face obstacles to enter the labor market, to find competitive employment.
IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION
- ‘At Work’ is a vocational rehabilitation intervention for young adults with chronic physical conditions who experience problems with finding and maintaining competitive employment after finishing post-secondary education.
- The ‘At Work’ intervention entails a combination of group sessions and individual coaching sessions based on the supported employment methodology.
- Paid employment rates of the intervention cohort substantially increased on the short- and long term, and approached employment rates of reference data of persons with chronic physical conditions.
- The ‘At Work’ intervention seems appropriate to support young adults with chronic physical conditions who experience barriers for work participation, to enter the labor market and find competitive and sustainable employment.