ICI Supports Community-Based Employment of Youth with Disabilities in Bhutan

Sun Jun 16 2019
The project staff in Bhutan.

In May, ICI’s Brian Abery and Renáta Tichá—along with Christopher Johnstone from the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development at the University of Minnesota—received a $148,000 subaward from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom (U.K.) for a three-year project that will support the inclusive community employment of youth and young adults with disabilities in Bhutan, a mountainous kingdom in south central Asia. This program of research and development entitled, Understanding, Developing, and Supporting Meaningful Work for Youth with Disabilities in Bhutan: Networks, Communities, and Transitions, will be conducted in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Birmingham and Royal Thimphu College in Bhutan. It will include Abery and Tichá developing and implementing tools to assess employment for people with disabilities in Bhutan, reviewing services that support this outcome, and determining which, if any, additional services they would recommend. This information will be used in conjunction with current policy and legislation to promote community-based employment in Bhutan for young people with disabilities.

“This work provides us an exciting opportunity to collaborate with a former ICI colleague, Matthew Schuelka, and our colleagues at the University of Birmingham and Royal Thimphu College to determine how we might adapt strategies used in the U.S. and U.K. to a totally different culture and environment,” Abery says. “We expect that much of what we learn in Bhutan will help us strengthen the employment approaches and strategies we use here in the U.S.”

Tichá agrees. “It’s a real privilege to be able work in a culture that has unique values, history, and social structures,” she says. “This experience gives us an opportunity to not only share our knowledge and expertise, but to adapt our approaches to assessing employment environments and outcomes based on the local context.”

The project is funded by the U.K.’s Economic and Social Research Council through a subaward from the University of Birmingham that runs from May 2019 through April 2022.