Senior business development consultant and network specialist Mary Oakley has underscored the need to have different pathways for neurodiverse employment from school-level. She suggested introducing apprenticeship cycles after junior school so that neurodiverse individuals can directly find work.
Speaking in an online interactive session with Nish Parikh, chief executive officer (CEO) of Rangam Consultants on creating pathways to employment in high school for the neurodiverse, Oakley said, “Big schools have a huge number of children in packed classrooms. If there are children who aren’t reaching the highest level of school education, then it becomes a bigger burden on the taxpayer. Neurodiverse children may never find employment if they are made to follow the entire school education tenure. While some may go on to complete formal education, others could be put into an internship program where companies can come forward to sponsor them. There needs to be new ways of thinking about the workplace because even 16-year olds are capable of working. They have a wonderful imagination.”
Oakley lives and works in Ireland where entry to a college depends on the number of points an individual gets in his/her Leaving Certificate examination.
“If a child who suffers from anxiety doesn’t get good points in the Leaving Certificate,” said Oakley, “then he/she won’t be able to get into a good college. A number of (allied) tech and craft skills like electrician and carpentry can be introduced at the school-level. Education should be way more tech-based, particularly for neurodiverse children.”