This initiative can help young people who are on the brink of having to claim disability benefits

Half of the young people who were at risk of having to claim disability benefits received regular work during the one year follow-up period.

Published Jun 27, 2019
Vigdis Sveinsdottir NORCE foto rune rolvsjord IMG 5788
Doctoral research fellow Vigdis Sveinsdottir at NORCE. (Photo: Rune Rolvsjord)

This is presented in The Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, with NORCE’s doctoral research fellow Vigdis Sveinsdottir as the main author.

Sveinsdottir and colleagues have conducted a randomised, controlled study of 96 young people aged between 18 to 29 years old. These young people claim benefits from NAV and were originally going to be part of an initiative that included sheltered work training.

However, the results show that Individual Job Support (IPS), which is aimed directly at ordinary work without preparatory work training, was a successful initiative that helped this group.

Almost half of the group involved in IPS (48 percent) received a regular job.

In the control group which was involved in the usual initiative for this group (placement in sheltered workshops), only 8 percent managed to get a job during the follow-up period.

Finding the most suitable job possible

IPS is about finding the most suitable job possible for the individual worker in normal working life. Employment specialists are used to teach the candidates to recognise and find the most suitable employers.

The new scholarly article is part of the research project SEED, which is funded by the Research Council of Norway. And it is within this project that Sveinsdottir has conducted research regarding her doctoral thesis.

The project focuses on the work rehabilitation of “young people on the brink”, i.e. young people at risk of early work disability as a result of various social or health related issues.

Characterized by psychological disorders - the majority are men

Previously, researchers have identified the characteristics of this group of young people, who neither work nor study and risk ending up on disability benefits.

The majority are men, almost 70 percent. They have many of the same characteristics that young people have who are already on disability benefits, including a high occurrence of mental disorders.

Relational problems stand out as particularly important.

“The majority state that relational problems are the cause of the illness-related situation in which they find themselves. These problems revolve around isolation, loneliness, lack of care and loss of friendship. Many of them also state that they have been a victim of bullying”, says Sveinsdottir.

New in both national and international contexts

Individual Job Support is originally designed for patients with severe mental disorders. The initiative now seems to be effective for several groups.

“The fact that IPS also works for this new group of young people with various social and health related problems is completely new, both in national and international contexts. It is particularly interesting because of the concerns related to increasing numbers of young disabled people in Norway, and because there hasn’t been any previous knowledge about what works for this group”, says Sveinsdottir.

Of course, IPS is no magic spell, she adds, but points out that it is very promising that almost half of those involved in the study’s initiative got a job.

“So, the challenge for some of them may be to keep the job over time, but no matter what, it is important to get a foot inside the door of an employer. Some have already gained permanent employment, while others are struggling a bit and may have to look for other opportunities. I believe that IPS should be established as standard practice for the group of young people who are at risk of ending up on disability benefits”, says Sveinsdottir.

Considering extended support

State secretary Guro Angell Gimse (Conservative Party) of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, told NRK Hordaland that support for IPS has increased by 55 million kroner in 2019. Extending the support to include the group at risk of having to claim disability benefits is being considered:

“This is a methodology that has produces such good results that it is definitely under consideration”, says Gimse to NRK.

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Related people

Vigdis Sveinsdottir