Researchers at University College Cork (UCC) are to study the impact of Covid-19 on the lives of young people with disabilities and the lessons educators can take from the pandemic.
Learning Disrupted is a new research partnership that will examine how the pandemic has affected young people with disabilities’ access to and experience of skills training and work placements, looking at the impact Covid-19 has had on 18 to 25-year-olds.
The research will also explore the potential of alternative learning experiences such as remote work placements as a response to these challenges.
Figures show that of the population aged 20-64, people with disabilities are over twice as likely to be unemployed as their able-bodied counterparts- an underrepresentation that may be made worse by the barriers to employment introduced by the pandemic.
Focus groups, letters from students detailing their experiences and interviews with educators will all form part of the research in the coming months.
The research was recently awarded almost €12,000 in funding from the Irish Research Council as part of its New Foundations Scheme.
Under the scheme, a total of 13 research projects were granted funding at UCC which was the most amount of grants be provided to any other Higher Education Institute.
Lead researcher Dr Claire Edwards said that the hope is to both explore the impact of the pandemic and the potential future strategies that can be used.
“By engaging with young people, their families, NLN staff and employers, the research will explore not just the effects of the pandemic on young people’s lives, but the potential of future learning and training strategies – including remote learning – to support people with disabilities’ participation in education, employment, and ultimately, society”.
Learning Disrupted is a collaboration between the National Learning Network (NLN) Cork and researchers in Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21) and UCC’s School of Applied Social Studies, Dr Claire Edwards and Dr Gill Harold.
The findings from the Learning Disrupted research is expected by the end of the year.