Working ability and learning to be supported at the beginning of career
The Rehabilitation Foundation and Kesko are implementing a joint project for supporting working ability and learning at the beginning of career. One of its aims is to identify learning difficulties and increase awareness of them.
The project ran a questionnaire among young employees. Its results show that learning difficulties are more common than usual in the trading sector and warehouse work. The most common learning difficulty is dyslexia.
For many young people, the trading sector and warehouse work provide jobs that enable learning at work. Compared with school, working life offers better possibilities to exploit one’s own strengths, which, in case of dyslexia, include big-picture thinking, good manual skills, diligence at work and good social skills. It is also argued that there are lots of dyslexics among entrepreneurs.
Learning difficulties and the ways in which people tackle them are often different between different individuals. For Finnish dyslexic adults, foreign language skills are the biggest problem. They read slowly and especially men can have difficulties in writing. Problems of memory and concentration are also common. Some Finnish adults have problems with basic reading. Sometimes the reason for an employee’s reluctance to participate in training or to take on assignments involving reading and writing is a learning difficulty.
More often than not, learning difficulties are not disclosed at the workplace or to the supervisor, because they are not thought to affect work performance, or employees prefer to hide them. Moreover, there are lots of young people and adults whose learning difficulties have not been identified at school.
The project workshops have discussed how learning difficulties are taken into account in working life. Paying attention to youths’ working ability provides a basis for the whole of their careers.
It is important to take learning difficulties into account in communications and apprenticeship arrangements. The Occupational Health Care Service can arrange a private discussion on learning difficulties and their possible effects on work performance. Training and career alternatives and the promotion of working ability and learning can be discussed in performance and development reviews. It would also be useful to think about the core content of our work.
Kesko has paid good attention to the induction of new employees and discussions about matters related to working ability. In this project, these matters are discussed with regard to learning difficulties. Does the employee have the possibility to repeat training? Are instructions clear? How can learning difficulties affect the ability to work?
In a good working community, employees can make use of their own strengths. A tolerant atmosphere, seeing details as part of the big picture and learning one new thing at a time over a longer period of time will make learning easier. Paying attention to problematic areas in communication and learning and the career as a whole will benefit all employees.
The writer Johanna Korkeamäki is a researcher at the Rehabilitation Foundation.
The project for supporting working ability and learning at the beginning of career is run from 2013 through 2015. The main financier is the Finnish Work Environment Fund.