Barriers to Employment for Transition-age Youth

Authors: Nuechterlein, K. H., Subotnik, K. L., Turner, L. R.,Ventura, J., Becker, D. R., & Drake, R. E.
Year Published 2016
Publication Administration and Policy in Mental Health
Volume 44
Number 3
Pages 354-358
Publisher Springer

Youth with developmental and psychiatric disabilities face substantial vocational challenges, even after receiving employment services. This study examined employment barriers for 280 transition-age youth with disabilities enrolled in supported employment in eight community rehabilitation centers.


Youth with disabilities encounter many barriers to employment. Awareness of these barriers may help employment programs anticipate challenges and develop strategies.


Eight Programs in the evaluation of the Illinois Balancing Incentive Program supported employment project.


The sample of the current study consisted of 280 youth with developmental and psychiatric disabilities from 8 of the 10 programs in the evaluation of the Illinois Incentive Program.

Data Collection

Responses from eight Individual Placement Support programs (four serving youth with developmental disabilities and four serving youth with psychiatric disabilities) were aggregated.


There was no control for this study.


Common barriers for youth with developmental disabilities were lack of work experience, transportation problems, cognitive problems, disengagement from the IPS program, and lack of social skills. Common barriers for youth with psychiatric disabilities were transportation problems, failure to engage in the IPS program, poor control of psychiatric symptoms, and lack or work experience.


Though both groups benefited from Individual Placement Support programs, addressing common barriers is imperative. Transportation problems, lack of work experience, engagement issues, and lack of family support were barriers present in both groups.

Disabilities No specific disability
Populations Male & Female
Outcomes Employment acquisition
Research Design Qualitative
Peer Reviewed Yes