• Career counselling/support at school;
  • intellectual disability;
  • negative attitudes;
  • parents;
  • teachers

Accessible summary

  • This study is about transition from school to work in Austria.
  • In Austria, students with intellectual disabilities leave school earlier than other students.
  • Many students with intellectual disabilities join sheltered workshops.
  • This means that students with intellectual disabilities in Austria do not have the same choices as other people.
  • This leads to disadvantages in the lives of the students with intellectual disabilities.
  • Learning helps people to take decisions independently.
  • The right to learn is very important, also for people with disabilities.


This article explores how career counselling at school contributes to supporting inclusive transition processes from school to regular vocational training and occupation for school-leavers with an intellectual disability. In a first step, a quantitative parent survey analyses how the type of school influences the recommendations of career counselling at school. Subsequently, the quantitative results are subjected to a more profound analysis by means of a qualitative teacher survey. The results show that career counselling at school functions as a ‘gatekeeper’ during the transition process from school to working life. In this context, the recommendations of career counselling at school are closely linked to the type of school attended. The majority of special school students are recommended occupational therapy, while the majority of students with special educational needs in general schools are recommended qualifying measures/vocational training. These results suggest that the recommendation of occupational therapy by career counsellors at school is closely linked to a negative attitude of teachers towards the cognitive abilities of students with intellectual disabilities. Segregated structures in the system also add to negative attitudes.