Employment opportunities for adults with the label of 'learning difficulties' in England
This study considered employment opportunities and realities of work for adults with learning difficulties in England (post the 2001, White Paper Valuing People) with the view to developing opportunities for people in Iran. An eclectic approach, using both qualitative and quantitative methods was adopted. Thus I studied the lives of six workers with learning difficulties and considered the case files of a further 200 similar employees in the English city of Northtown in order to develop an understanding of their employment experiences and to gain insight into the perceptions of their employers in mainstream workplaces. Twenty one employers completed a survey questionnaire and 12 were interviewed. I also investigated how supported employment providers (SEPs) promote `meaningful work' opportunities for people with learning difficulties. The research findings helped me to formulate policy recommendations and applications for Iran. The social model of learning difficulties was the main stance of this research. The research showed that people with learning difficulties were excluded from many aspects of life particularly employment, due to the social, cultural, political and structural barriers within society. All the SEPs and most employers perceived employees with learning difficulties as capable, punctual, reliable, willing, hard-working very helpful and trustworthy workers. This study highlighted that the current supported employment programme, despite supporting employees with learning difficulties at work and increasing the employers' awareness of their ability was not successful in enabling people in gaining meaningful work. The Workstep programme, however, did appear to help people with learning difficulties to get paid jobs. This thesis recommends further reflexive empirical research regarding the employment of people with learning difficulties both in England and in Iran.