Review Article

A literature review on work transitioning of youth with disabilities into competitive employment

Madri Engelbrecht, Lynn Shaw, Lana van Niekerk
African Journal of Disability | Vol 6 | a298 | DOI: | © 2017 Madri Engelbrecht, Lynn Shaw, Lana van Niekerk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 July 2016 | Published: 29 August 2017

About the author(s)

Madri Engelbrecht, Division of Occupational Therapy, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
Lynn Shaw, School of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Health Professions, Dalhousie University, Canada
Lana van Niekerk, Division of Occupational Therapy, Tygerberg Campus, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa


Background: The marginalisation of youth with disabilities from employment opportunities is evident from literature in as far as they form part of the larger groups ‘people with disabilities’ and ‘youth’. A focused view of programmes that assist youth with disabilities into employment has not been presented, despite the worldwide crisis of youth unemployment.
Aim: This review aimed to identify evidence on work transition programmes that are effective in assisting people with disabilities into open labour market (competitive) employment, as well as to highlight gaps in knowledge to inform future research on this topic.
Methods: Literature and policy on programmes that support such transitions were considered, firstly from a global perspective and then with a view from developing countries. The SALSA (Search, Appraisal, Synthesis and Analysis) framework was used to source and analyse information from a diverse set of documents. Various online databases were searched for research papers published between 1990 and 2016, and websites were searched for reports pertaining to this topic.
Results: Ninety-nine documents were selected to inform the review, out of an identified 259 scientific journal articles, policy documents, acts, organisational reports and book chapters.
Conclusion: A synthesis of findings was presented in a narrative that reflects the themes of youth with disabilities and employment in the world, work transition endeavours in the developing world and a specific focus on this group in South Africa. The review revealed a gap in knowledge and evidence pertaining to youth with disabilities and employment, highlighting these as research foci, and emphasising the need for youth-focused research that generates knowledge about disability and transitions into the labour force.


Disability; Employment; Youth with disabilities


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Crossref Citations

1. School-to-work Transitions for Students with Intellectual Disabilities: Teachers' Perceptions and Experiences of a Recent Workplace-Based Reform in Sweden
Jens Ineland, Kateryna Karhina, Lotta Vikström
Journal of International Special Needs Education  vol: 24  issue: 2  first page: 86  year: 2021  
doi: 10.9782/JISNE-D-20-00012