Ability Programme

People with Down syndrome want to work and represent a substantial source of untapped commitment and talent. In Ireland, less than 5% of adults with Down syndrome secure meaningful employment and we in Down Syndrome Ireland are working to change that. 

Our Ability Programme breaks down barriers and provides people with Down syndrome access to meaningful employment opportunities.

Aimed at all school leavers and adults with Down syndrome across the country, the approach of the programme is two-pronged:

  • We offer a bespoke person-centred education and training programme which prepares adults with Down syndrome for employment.
  • We also develop direct links with employers around the country through a programme of partnership initiatives aimed at securing long-term employment for adults with Down syndrome across a broad range of sectors.

Education and Training

Down Syndrome Ireland run adult education programmes that offer an alternative option to the traditional day-service route.  School-leavers have the option of studying our literacy and technology course, Latch – On or our active citizenship course, My Opinion My Vote (MOTE).    We also run a bespoke Work Skills course which is designed to help adults with Down syndrome close the gap between education and meaningful employment in the world of work.

The course is divided into three modules:

-You and Your Career looks at the individual and what their interests and motivations are. Students also learn about the different types of jobs and careers that are available.

-Getting a Job examines the practical process of applying for a job. Students will practise all aspects from job adverts, application forms, CVs and interviews.

-Success in Work prepares students for professional life and looks at social behaviour expected in the workplace. Students will practise roleplays and learn about timekeeping.

If possible, students are encouraged to take part in work experience in their local area during their course.

We offer students a number of options. 

  • Students can study all three courses together giving a full-time alternative to entering a day centre.
  • Adults who have already completed our existing education programmes, Latch-On and MOTE, can avail of our Work Skills Course (1 day per week for 2 years or 2 days per week for 1 year, depending on the commitments of students).
  • School leavers and adults aged 18-30 who have not previously participated in our programmes will be offered a new three-year programme, which will run 4 days a week.


If you would like to find out about or start an adult education course in your area, please contact John Condon, Head of Adult Education at johncondon@downsyndrome.ie; Sinéad Flynn, Adult Education Officer at sinead@downsyndrome.ie or call us on 01-5632450.

  • Employment Programme


    Down Syndrome Ireland’s Employment team supports adults to make informed choices about their careers and works to provide them with the necessary resources to seek, obtain and be successful in gaining employment. 

    This support consists of our adult education courses, practical training partnerships in a variety of industries, specialised pre-employment and interview training, combined with ongoing support once employment has commenced.  

    Industries in which we have successfully placed adults with Down syndrome include but are not limited to: hairdressing salons, office administration (corporate, public sector, academic), retail, hospitality (hotels, bars, cafes, restaurants), leisure centres, opticians, manufacturing, childcare.  We are always looking to partner with new employers and explore new exciting opportunities for adults with Down syndrome. 

    We are currently engaging with a wide range of progressive organisations that see people with disabilities as key to making their workplaces more diverse and inclusive. 

    Are you interested in finding out more? Please contact our Head of Employment, Aoife Gaffney, by email at aoife@downsyndrome.ie 


    Are you an employer?

    If you are interested in employing a person with Down syndrome, take a look at the following information pack for employers that we have developed to help give an overview of our process and goals. 

    Companies that employ people with Down syndrome report that those employees are committed and motivated, and often only need an opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities.

    The positive impact on the person with Down syndrome is substantial. Working helps improve confidence, increase social connectivity and integrate the individual into the local community.

    If you are an employer, we ask you not to make assumptions about what a person with Down syndrome can do. We ask you to consider the skills, abilities and aspirations of each individual. 

    We can provide support to you around looking at job roles and responsibilities in your organisation that would provide meaningful work for an adult with Down syndrome.  We can also provide support around contracts and any materials that may need to be written to support the individual and employer training to ensure awareness around working with adults with Down syndrome.

    If you are an employer who wishes to employ a person with Down syndrome, we are here to support you. Please contact our Head of Employment, Aoife Gaffney at aoife@downsyndrome.ie.



    I’m an employer, how do I get involved?   

    • Please watch our employment FAQ video in the above ‘Are you an employer’ section.  
    • Download our Employer Introductory Pack for information on the supports that Down Syndrome Ireland can offer and the many benefits of employing a person with Down syndrome.   
    • If you have any further questions please reach out to our Head of Employment, Aoife Gaffney, by email at aoife@downsyndrome.ie  


    I am a person with Down syndrome/parent and I want to find a job, what do I do?   

    • If you need advice or have further questions please reach out to our Head of Employment, Aoife Gaffney, by email at aoife@downsyndrome.ie.  
    • Keep an eye on our member Digest, our website, and social media platforms as we advertise across all of these when training and positions become available.  


    How can I prepare myself to be “employment ready”?  

    There are lots of skills you can practice at home, with your family and friends, and out in the community.  These will all help you work towards becoming a more independent and confident adult.  It will also help you prepare for work. You can practice:  

    • Conversation skills – small talk, staying on topic, knowing the difference between personal and professional conversations 
    • Independence Skills – problem-solving, making decisions, being on time, traveling on public transport, managing your money 
    • Communication Skills – introducing yourself to someone new, having good eye contact and body language, following instructions, communicating your choices, expressing your opinion, showing an interest in other people 
    • Boundaries and Behaviour – knowing what appropriate personal space is, being sure of privacy (private places and private behaviours), knowing the different ways to act and communicate with colleagues compared to friends and family. 

This project was approved by Government with support from the Dormant Accounts Fund.