A Holistic Analysis of Career Development of Tertiary Educated Young Persons with Disabilities in Hong Kong: A Mixed Methods Design

香港高等教育身心障礙青年的職涯規劃發展與培育之整體分析 : 混合設計研究

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
Award date18 Aug 2021


Young people with disabilities (YPWDs) face unique challenges and require tailored career support in face of a variety of challenges as they make school- work transitions. Many YPWDs are willing and hoping to enter the working community, but research show they often face poor career outcomes in comparison to their counterparts. The developmental needs and characteristics of YPWDs should be considered, and they should be provided with opportunities to gain knowledge and explore their own needs, strengths, career interests and preferences as well as be aware of their own limitations. It is important to empower youth to make their own career decisions through career exposure and job search skill guidance. Recently, there has been research discussing the influence of Chinese cultural values when students are thinking about their career. Youth may consider parental support and expectations, peer support whilst personal competence skills such career decision self-efficacy and job seeking related skills have an impact as well. Hong Kong falls behind other places when it comes to attracting and supporting YPWDs transitioning to employment after tertiary education. Current career support for youth with disabilities are rather superficial and inadequate, with a limited focus of information dissemination of education and vocational opportunities.

Against such background, this study adopted the social cognitive career theory and the ecological systems approach to inform this research to achieve three research objectives. This study consisted of two studies, using a mixed methods approach. First, Study 1 aimed to offer empirical evidence whether there are significant differences in career related psycho-social variables and career related competency in higher educated YPWDs compared to young people without disabilities (non-YPWDs) in Hong Kong. Study 1 also intended explore whether personal competence variable (i.e. career decision self-efficacy and career related self-identity) would influence the relationship between disability related variables (i.e. self-handicapping, self-stigma and fears of employment) and job searching unique to YPWDs. Whilst Study 2 adopted a quasi-experimental design and a comparison of 3 groups (i.e. 2 different intern groups and 1 control group) program evaluation study of existing interventions to improve career development, to empower YPWDs towards their career aspirations. Study 3 was designed to gain further understanding of the facilitators and barriers of YPWDs to gain employment and uncovering the benefits of the existing career interventions using an in-depth interview approach.

For study 1, 296 Hong Kong higher educated YPWDs and non-YPWDs completed questionnaires. ANCOVA analysis were conducted group among career related predictors, job search self-efficacy behaviours and job search strategy between YPWDs and non-YPWDs as well as across different disability types in the YPWDs group. Group (YPWDs and non-YPWDs) was treated as a moderator between different personal competence and social support variables and job search outcomes. Results revealed important similarities and differences in both groups with YPWDs having significantly career decision making self-efficacy and job search self-efficacy. Whilst Study 2 utilized a mixed method approach to test the program effectiveness of existing interventions to improve career development, to empower YPWDs towards their career aspirations. 75 YPWDs participated in the quantitative part of the study with a pre-post 3 group (experimental, other intern, control), comparison design. General Estimating Equations revealed that the experimental intervention group showed significant improvements in career related outcomes. In the qualitative part of Study 2, 31 YPWDs participated in semi-structured interviews to explore the benefits of the interventions as well as the facilitators and barriers in the personal and societal level that fosters positive career development. The qualitative part of Study 2 revealed that YPWDs displayed self-handicapping behaviours, self-stigma beliefs and fear to employment in job search. YPWDs also revealed the importance of a liaison as well as the benefits of work experience. The implications for theory development in career development specific to YPWDs are discussed along with implications towards career guidance and counselling for higher educated YPWDs in Hong Kong important insights to better inform career education and development are also discussed. The limitations of the three studies by far are the small sample size, deeming that YPWDs are hard to reach, and the types of disabilities of the participants in this study was biased towards those of invisible disabilities as the majority of the YPWDs did not require any assistance.