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School of Health Sciences

The prevalence and nature of speech, language and communication needs in long-term unemployed adults

Supervisors

1st supervisor: Victoria Joffe

2nd supervisor: tbc

Research centre

Language and Communication Science

Project description

Around 7% of children and 10% of young people have speech, language and communication difficulties. These difficulties can be long term and pervasive and impact on academic achievement, psychosocial functioning and long term employment prospects (Johnson et al., 2010).  Most of the research in this area is with young children, and there is limited research or services for older children and adults with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN).  

Research looking at the prevalence of SLCN in young offenders, found rates of between 66-90% of young offenders with SLCN (Bryan et al., 2007). A small scale study exploring the prevalence of SLCN in the long term unemployed found that up to 88% of long-term unemployed males aged 18 to 24 were language impaired (Elliot, 2011).  

Language and communication difficulties can go undetected in adults, and the long term unemployed may be particularly vulnerable. Understanding more about the language and communication of this group of adults is important because being able to communicate competently is a key part of securing and sustaining employment.

Considering the close links between language and employability, it is important for employability services and government agencies to offer language and communication support to this population. A greater awareness of the prevalence and type of language and communication needs in this group will assist in the setting up of appropriate support services.

The proposed study aims to investigate the prevalence and nature of speech, language and communication skills in a group of long term unemployed adults. The

The aims of the PhD will be to:

  1. Conduct a systematic review of prevalence and nature of speech, language and communication needs of long term unemployed adults, and
  2. Investigate the prevalence and nature of speech, language and communication skills in a group of long term unemployed adults.
  3. Identify barriers and facilitators in the area of language and communication that impact on successful employment.

References:

  • Johnson, C. J., Beitchman, J. H., & Brownlie, E. B. (2010).Twenty-year follow-up of children with and without speech language impairments: Family, educational, occupational, and quality of life outcomes. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 19, 51–65.
  • Bryan K, Freer J, & Furlong C. (2007). Language and communication difficulties in juvenile offenders. International Journal of Language and Communication Difficulties, 2007; 42, 505-520.
  • Elliott N (2011). An investigation into the communication skills of long-term unemployed young men.

Recommended Skills / Prior Learning

  1. Degree (2.1or above) in a related area: speech and language therapy, psychology, education (essential)
  2. Excellent communication and interviewing skills (essential)
  3. Prior experience of working with older children and young people with speech language and communication needs (desirable)