Hoe past het? Een kwalitatieve analyse van narratieven van jongeren met een ondersteuningsbehoefte op het gebied van passend onderwijs en passende arbeid



Hoe past het? Een kwalitatieve analyse van narratieven van jongeren met een ondersteuningsbehoefte op het gebied van passend onderwijs en passende arbeid

In zorg, welzijn en onderwijs hebben zich in de afgelopen jaren transities voorgedaan die van invloed zijn op jongeren die ondersteuning behoeven bij het succesvol doorlopen van hun schoolloopbaan en/of het vinden van passende arbeid. Waar deze jongeren eerst op speciale scholen en in beschermde werkomgevingen te vinden waren, worden zij nu geacht regulier onderwijs te volgen en de reguliere arbeidsmarkt te betreden. Hoe ervaren deze jongeren zelf de ondersteuning die ze ontvangen en wat verwachten zij van hun toekomst?


In de onderzoekslijn Van passend onderwijs naar passende arbeid, onderdeel van de Werkplaats Sociaal Domein Nijmegen, hebben studenten van de Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen narratief onderzoek verricht (n=35). De transcripten van deze interviews zijn als onderzoeksobject gebruikt voor een exploratieve studie naar de ervaringen van deze groep jongeren met een ondersteuningsbehoefte. De jongeren geven aan zo veel mogelijk als “normaal” gezien te willen worden, maar beseffen tegelijkertijd niet zonder ondersteuning te kunnen. Zij waarderen ondersteuners die praktisch meedenken en zowel de mogelijkheden als beperkingen van de jongeren zien. Onzekerheid over hun (arbeids)perspectief, heeft invloed op verwachtingen die zij van zichzelf hebben. De overstap van school naar werk wordt als moeilijk ervaren. Verbeteringen ten aanzien van de hulpverlening liggen op het vlak van samenwerking met en tussen hulpverleners en de mogelijkheid om te ervaren welke vorm van werk daadwerkelijk past.


What is appropriate? A qualitative analysis of the narratives of adolescents with special needs in education and in finding employment

What is the impact of transitions in care and education in the Netherlands for adolescents who need professional support in order to succeed in education or work? What are their experiences of searching for adequate education or work? What do they need from the professional support system? And to what extent do the methods used by professionals meet the expectations and values of the adolescents?


Transitions in care and education in the Netherlands, together with austerity measures, are leading to changes in professional support for adolescents who experience barriers to participating successfully in education or work. Policymakers plan to reform the social system in such a way that it will no longer be common for adolescents with special needs to attend special schools or work in sheltered work environments. They will be expected to participate in regular education or jobs, and they will only receive professional support when necessary and this will be kept as short as possible. Not long ago, lifelong dependency on social welfare was more or less the norm for this group of adolescents. Nowadays, the required support needs to be provided through their informal network, supplemented with support from teachers and professionals such as community workers in the local context (Movisie, 2015). Recent research shows that labour market participation among those who need support is significantly lower than among people with no such needs. For instance, 39 percent of adolescents with a physical challenge are working, while 65 to 72 percent of their peers with no physical challenge are in employment (Holwerda, 2013). For adolescents with an autistic disorder, percentages of between ten and fifty percent have been mentioned.


Current research on transitions in care and education also shows that professionals encounter a range of problems in supporting adolescents who require support. Teachers cite inadequate skills and experience in working with parents and professionals from other institutions, and an inability to “speak the same language”. Teachers also mention the need to improve their knowledge and competences in special educational needs and the consequences of the psychological and mental challenges associated with successful participation in education and work.


In the period 2016-2017, several student groups at HAN University of Applied Sciences conducted 35 narrative interviews during the final phase of their Bachelor’s programmes. Adolescents were recruited for the interviews by community service workers, through social media and informal contacts. They were asked about their experiences of receiving support while completing their education (mainly vocational education) and their experiences of finding suitable employment. The participants were all receiving support from some kind of professional support system at school or at work. For the purposes of this article, adolescents with special needs are defined as adolescents who cannot fulfil their educational goals or cannot find work without some kind of support. There are various reasons why they may need support, such as living with a physical or mental disability, a problematic family situation, debt problems or refugee status. The interview guidelines were based on the overall development of the adolescents and their need for support, both now and in the past.


A qualitative explorative analysis was carried out in relation to the adolescents’ statements about their way of life, the challenges they face, the opportunities open to them and their experiences of professional support. Firstly, the transcripts were closely read and coded, and then organized thematically based on the patterns identified in the various narratives. This analysis showed that these vulnerable adolescents wish to live as normal a life as possible, and that they have an intrinsic need to progress in life. Their goals are based on a more or less traditional framework of values: paid work, independence and sharing their lives with the people they love. At the same time, they are also aware that they need support in order to make progress towards these goals. This makes the specific way in which professionals address the needs of these adolescents extremely important. They need support that reflects the reality of what they can achieve and their expectations of achieving those goals, rather than support that focuses solely on their ambitions and motivation. As regards finding professional support, the adolescents mentioned that finding the right support is hard, especially in higher vocational education and at university, and that lifelong dependency on professional care often comes with many uncertainties. As one of the adolescents said: “I don’t know where I’ll be living next year, who will be helping me and what I’ll be doing. Professionals are leaving, my need for support is changing and nobody stays with me for long. And this happens over and over again.”


According to the adolescents interviewed, it is important that the professionals have skills such as: ensuring regular contact, providing practical support and acknowledging both what is and what is not possible in their specific situation. Transitions in care and education in the Netherlands mean that professional support for these adolescents is shorter and less intensive. They find it difficult to receive the right kind of support because often professionals from several organizations are involved and nobody is familiar with all the details of the adolescent’s situation. A further problem is that there is not enough joint action by teachers, social workers and the informal network of the adolescent in providing the best possible preparation for participation in society. Furthermore, these adolescents are often not given the opportunity to experience which kinds of work really suit their situation. This leads to further experiences of failure.


Finally, regarding employment, the analysis leads to the conclusion that the shift from voluntary work to paid employment is hard to achieve. One of the factors mentioned is the lack of support for the employee in the workplace so that the work can be tailored to his/her needs, and the feeling of having to start all over again to find the right support to be able to achieve a sustainable situation. 


adequate educationinclusive educationadequate workvulnerable adolescentsdisabilitysocial workeducationparticipation
  • Year: 2018
  • Volume: 27 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 4-23
  • DOI: 10.18352/jsi.546
  • Published on 19 Feb 2018
  • Peer Reviewed