Ability Programme

Ability is co-financed by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

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 offers 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 compiled of interactive videos centred on employment and is based on a project developed by Accenture called the Skills to Succeed Academy

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 a 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.


You can download further information about our Ability Programme here.

If you would like to find out about or start an adult education course in your area, please contact our Adult Education Officer Roz at Roz@downsyndrome.ie or call us on 01 4266500.


Workplace opportunities

Supporting adults to make informed choices about their work and careers and providing them with the necessary resources to seek, obtain and be successful in gaining employment is a core element of the programme.

For this reason, Ability also consists of pre-employment training, varied work experiences and specific work placements in the students’ local community which are likely to progress into meaningful employment.

To date, we have helped support adults gain meaningful employment opportunities with employers such as in hair salons across Ireland as a result of our hairdressing assistant training programme with ALFAPARF Milano.  Other successful employment placements to date have been with the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), in the hotel and catering industry, in leisure centres and in office administration.  We have partnered with many more employers and are always on the lookout for more exciting employment opportunities for adults with Down syndrome.

We aim to have 220 school leavers and adults with Down syndrome graduate the Ability Programme and gain meaningful employment by 2021 and are currently engaging with a wide range of progressive organisations who see people with disabilities as key to making their organisation more diverse and inclusive.

Interested in finding out more? Please contact our Adult Employment and Projects Officer Aoife by email at aoife@downsyndrome.ie or on 01 4266500.


Are you an employer?

Companies who 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 Adult Employment and Projects Officer Aoife at aoife@downsyndrome.ie or by phone on 01 4266500.