Skip to main content

Employment Opportunities for People with Intellectual Disabilities

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Choice, Preference, and Disability

Part of the book series: Positive Psychology and Disability Series ((POPD))

Abstract

Employment opportunities for disabled people are limited, and the employment rates are far below that of the wider population. Employment rates are in particular low among people with intellectual disabilities. The vast majority is occupied at day activity centres or in segregated, sheltered settings with no pay or a low ‘encouragement’ pay. In Norway, the country from which the concrete facts of this chapter are drawn, people with intellectual disabilities appear to be on a ‘fast track’ to the disability pension, leading to low priority in the system for employment supports. This chapter addresses typical positive functions of work in the everyday life of adults and asks if the occupation of people with intellectual disability can fulfil such functions. This is partly dependent on to what extent it is perceived as work. Perceptions and priorities among individuals themselves appear to vary, and six different coping strategies with accompanying self-presentations are discussed. Some individuals find current work stigmatising, others enjoy the activities or the social network, and some argue that they prefer this to doing nothing. Some individuals exit work because they do not regard the work they are offered as real, and that ‘pretend work’ is more stigmatising than not working. ‘Family resemblance’ with common perceptions of work appears to be a key point.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 149.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 199.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 199.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. 1.

    According to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

  2. 2.

    The registers of people of working age (18–66) were used. 0.54% of the population is registered with primary diagnoses related to ID (ICD 10: F70–79, F83, F84.0–84.4, Q90–95, 97–99). The figure is slightly lower than the only national epidemiological study (0.62%, Strømme & Valvatne, 1998) and a little further below typical findings in high-income countries (0.92%, Maulik, Mascarenhas, Mathers, Dua, & Saxena, 2011). People with ID may be unclassified in the register if they have (1) another primary diagnosis (such as CP, epilepsy, etc.) or (2) do not receive any of the WWA supports. This first point may lead to false negatives, whereas the second may lead to an underestimation of people with intellectual disabilities in open employment. This underestimation is likely to be minor and, in any case, comprised of people with a borderline intellectual disability.

  3. 3.

    www.klapjob.dk

  4. 4.

    www.heltmed.no

References

  • Beyer, S., Brown, T., Akandi, R., & Rapley, M. (2010). A comparison of quality of life outcomes for people with intellectual disabilities in supported employment, day services and employment enterprises. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 23, 290–295. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-3148.2009.00534.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bourdieu, P. (1996). Symbolsk makt. Artikler i utvalg [Symbolic power. Selected articles]. Oslo, Norway: Pax.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bush, K. L., & Tassé, M. J. (2017). Employment and choice-making for adults with intellectual disability, autism, and down syndrome. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 65, 23–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2017.04.004

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Butterworth, J., Hiersteiner, D., Engler, J., Bershadsky, J., & Bradley, V. (2015). National Core Indicators (c): Data on the current state of employment of adults with IDD and suggestions for policy development. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 42(3), 209–220. https://doi.org/10.3233/jvr-150741

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dahl, E., van der Wel, K., & Harsløv, I. (2010). Arbeid, helse og ulikhet [Employment, health and inequality]. Oslo, Norway: The Norwegian Directorate of Health.

    Google Scholar 

  • Edgerton, R. B. (1967). The cloak of competence: Stigma in the lives of the mentally retarded. Berkely, CA: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eurostat. (2015). Employment of disabled people. Statistical analysis of the 2011 Labour Force Survey ad hoc module. Luxembourg, Europe: Publication Office of the European Union.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gjertsen, H., & Olsen, T. (2013). Broer inn i arbeidslivet [Bridges to employment]. Bodø, Norway: Nordland Research Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York, NY: Doubleday.

    Google Scholar 

  • Greve, B. (2009). The labour market situation of disabled people in European countries and implementation of employment policies: A summary of evidence from country reports and research studies. Leeds, UK: University of Leeds and ANED. Retrieved from http://www.disability-europe.net/downloads/276-aned-task-6-final-report-final-version-17-04-09

    Google Scholar 

  • Halvorsen, K., Bakken, O., & Fugelli, P. (1986). Arbeidsløs i velferdsstaten [Unemployment in the welfare state]. Oslo, Norway: Universitetsforlaget.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hatton, C. (2018). Paid employment amongst adults with learning disabilities receiving social care in England: Trends over time and geographical variation. Tizard Learning Disability Review, 23(2), 117–122. https://doi.org/10.1108/tldr-01-2018-0003

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hedley, D., Uljarevic, M., Cameron, L., Halder, S., Richdale, A., & Dissanayake, C. (2017). Employment programmes and interventions targeting adults with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review of the literature. Autism, 21(8), 929–941. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361316661855

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hyde, M. (1996). Fifty years of failure: Employment services for disabled people in the UK. Work, Employment & Society, 10, 683–700. https://doi.org/10.1177/0950017096104004

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • ILO. (2015). Decent work for persons with disabilities: Promoting rights on the global development agenda. Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Office.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jahoda, M., Lazarsfeld, P., & Zeisel, H. (1933). Die Arbeitdslosen von Marienthal [The unemployed from Marienthal]. Leipzig, Germany: Hirzel.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kittelsaa, A. M. (2011). Vanlig eller utviklingshemmet? Selvforståelse og andres forståelser [Ordinary or intellectually disabled? Self-identity and other peoples understandigs]. Bergen, Norway: Fagbokforlaget.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kittelsaa, A. M. (2014). Self-presentations and intellectual disability. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 16(1), 29–44. https://doi.org/10.1080/15017419.2012.761159

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kohli, M. (1985). Die Institutionalisierung des lebenslaufs. [The institutionalisation of the CV.]. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 37, 1–29.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kohli, M. (2007). The institutionalisation of life course: Looking back to look ahead. Research in Human Development, 4, 253–271. https://doi.org/10.1080/15427600701663122

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lipsky, M. (1980/2010). Street-level bureacracy. New York, NY: Russel Sage Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lysaght, R., Ouellette-Kuntz, H., & Lin, C.-J. (2012). Untapped potential: Perspectives on the employment of people with intellectual disability. Work, 41, 409–422. https://doi.org/10.3233/WOR-2012-1318

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lysaght, R., Šiška, J., & Koenig, O. (2015). International employment statistics for people with intellectual disability. The case for common metrics. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 12(2), 112–119. https://doi.org/10.1111/jppi.12113

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Maulik, P., Mascarenhas, M., Mathers, C., Dua, T., & Saxena, S. (2011). Prevalence of intellectual disability: A meta-analysis of population-based studies. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 32, 419–436. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2010.12.018

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • McConkey, R., Kelly, F., Craig, S., & Keogh, F. (2017). A longitudinal study of post-school provision for Irish school-leavers with intellectual disability. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 45(3), 166–171. https://doi.org/10.1111/bld.12190

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McGlinchey, E., McCallion, P., Burke, E., Carroll, R., & McCarron, M. (2013). Exploring the issue of employment for adults with an intellectual disability in Ireland. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 26(4), 335–343. https://doi.org/10.1111/jar.12046

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Melling, K., Beyer, S., & Kilsby, M. (2011). Supported employment for people with learning disabilities in the UK: The last 15 years. Tizard Learning Disability Review, 16(2), 23–32. https://doi.org/10.5042/tldr.2011.0165

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Merton, R. (1967). Manifest and latent functions. In R. Merton (Ed.), On theoretical sociology (pp. 73–138). New York, NY: The Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • NOU (Norway’s Official Reports). (2016, no. 17). På lik linje. Åtte løft for å realisere grunnleggende rettigheter for personer med utviklingshemming [On equal terms. Eight measures to realize basic rights of people with intellectual disabilities]. Oslo, Norway: Departement of Children and Equality.

    Google Scholar 

  • OECD. (2006). Sickness, disability and work: Breaking the barriers. Paris, France: Author.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • OECD. (2010). Sickness, Disability and Work. A synthesis of findings across OECD countries. Paris, France: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  • OECD. (2017). OECD employment outlook. Paris, France: Author. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1787/empl_outlook-2017-en

  • Olsen, T. (2009). Versjoner av arbeid. Dagaktivitet og arbeid etter avviklingen av institusjonsomsorgen [Versions of work. Daytime activities and work in the aftermath of the institutional reform for persons with intellectual disabilities] (PhD thesis). Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University.

    Google Scholar 

  • Parmenter, T. (2011). Promoting training av employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities: International experience. (Employment working paper no. 103). Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Office.

    Google Scholar 

  • Parsons, T. (1951). The social system. London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

    Google Scholar 

  • Proba. (2016). Arbeidssituasjonen for personer med utviklingshemming [The labour market situation of people with intellectual disablities]. Oslo, Norway: Proba.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reinertsen, S. (2012). Arbeids- og akttivitetssituasjonen blant mennesker med utviklingshemming [Employment and occupation among people with intellectual disabilities]. Trondheim, Norway: NAKU.

    Google Scholar 

  • Söderström, S., & Tøssebro, J. (2011). Innfridde må eller brutte visjoner? [Achieved aims or broken promises? The development of living conditions for intellectually disabled people]. Trondheim, Norway: NTNU Social Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Solvang, P. (1993). Biografi, normalitet og samfunn [Biography, normality and society]. Bergen, Norway: University of Bergen.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spjelkavik, Ø., Børing, P., Frøyland, K., & Skarpaas, I. (2012). Behovet for varig tilrettelagt arbeid [The need for sheltered employment]. Oslo, Norway: Work Research Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stortingsmelding (White Paper), no. 39 (1991–1992). Attføring og arbeid for yrkeshemmede [Rehabilitation and employment for people with reduced work capacity]. Oslo, Norway: Department of Labour and Administration.

    Google Scholar 

  • Strømme, P., & Valvatne, K. (1998). Mental retardation in Norway prevalence and sub-classification in a cohort of 30 037 children born between 1980 and 1985. Acta Pædiatrica, 87, 291–296. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1651-2227.1998.tb01440.x

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Timmons, J. C., Hall, A. C., Bose, J., Wolfe, A., & Winsor, J. (2011). Choosing employment: Factors that impact employment decisions for individuals with intellectual disability. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 49(4), 285–299. https://doi.org/10.1352/1934-9556-49.4.285

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Tøssebro, J. & Wik, S. (2015). Funksjonshemmedes tilknytning til arbeidslivet [Disabled people and employment]. Oslo, Norway: The Research Council of Norway.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tuckerman, P., Cain, P., Long, B., & Klarkowski, J. (2012). An exploration of trends in open employment in Australia since 1986. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 37(3), 173–183. https://doi.org/10.3233/JVR-2012-0612

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Verdonshot, M. M. L., de Witte, L. P., Reichrath, E., Buntix, W. H. E., & Curs, L. M. G. (2009). Community participation of people with an intellectual disability: A review of empirical findings. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 53(4), 303–318. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2788.2008.01144.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Waddell, G., & Burton, A. K. (2006). Is work good for your health and well-being? London, UK: TSO (The Stationery Office).

    Google Scholar 

  • Wendelborg, C., Gustavsson, A., & Tøssebro, J. (forthcoming). Education and employment for intellectually disabled people – a vicious circle?

    Google Scholar 

  • Wendelborg, C., & Tøssebro, J. (2018). Personer med utviklingshemming og arbeid – arbeidslinje eller fast tack til kommunal omsorg? [People with intellectual disabilities and employment – employment first or fast track til social services. Fontene Forskning, 11: 58–71.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wittgenstein, L. (1958). Philosophical investigations. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wolfensberger, W. (1972). Normalization. Toronto, Canada: National Institute on Mental Retardation.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jan Tøssebro .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Tøssebro, J., Olsen, T. (2020). Employment Opportunities for People with Intellectual Disabilities. In: Stancliffe, R.J., Wehmeyer, M.L., Shogren, K.A., Abery, B.H. (eds) Choice, Preference, and Disability. Positive Psychology and Disability Series. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-35683-5_12

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics