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Like any transition, big or small, the move from one thing to another can be completely overwhelming when the new place or activity is unknown. To help ease the move or change, we can implement particular strategies to make the transition as smooth as possible. It doesn’t matter the type of transition as long as the person is prepped before the event is about to occur.

In our workshop on ‘Supporting Change and Transition’, we discuss the relevance of ‘significant’ transitions and what that means for somebody who struggles with change. Significance, quite often, is relative to the person and how they cope with change – it is different for each and every person. Depending on the type of transition, whether it be a frequent occurrence or a once-off, it all comes down to the impact a person feels as they experience the transition. It could be that a person experiences many transitions each and every day and regardless of the type, may always feel heightened anxiety as a result. It doesn’t matter how much a person is exposed to change and transition, it will not lessen the impact it can have on that person.

Moving from secondary school to a new job is what we would consider to be a ‘significant’ transition. We can look at it in more detail as to the reasons why this is so, by looking closely at what supports may be available within the school environment:

  • At school, a student is guided by their teachers and the curriculum as to the path that they are to follow.
  • Transport to and from school can be by bus or car usually under the supervision of families or school.
  • Support is provided by year level coordinators and home room teachers to check in with students needing some guidance and direction.

  • School terms are ten weeks on average and students generally have two weeks holidays at the end of each term with a five week break over the Christmas / New year period.
  • Whilst at school, most students are still living at home with family and have financial, moral and physical and emotional support.
  • Living at home may have the added benefits of having meals prepared and cooked, laundry washing sorted and medical and therapeutic appointments made and transported to and from these appointments.
  • Usually the school is situated in the same town as the student lives.

When we look at it this way, it outlines the significant changes that a young person may go through when they leave school to start a new job – each of the above statements just shows that when you begin employment, many of the current supports are no longer available. The young person then moves from the family home particularly if the job is in another town or city. They require lots of encouragement and support but most importantly, teaching them skills to become more independent prior to leaving the family home. The skill building should begin at least 12 months before to help the young person to become ready for independence.

Transitioning from school to employment is a common life stage that all people experience at least once in their life and the more skilled a person is to move through this transition, the better the outcome will be – the key to a successful transition is a consistent, supported approach!

Please tell us if you’ve had any positive experiences with transitioning from school to employment

Sherri 🙂


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