Innovative Practice 2020 on Inclusive Education and ICT

A three-year vocational training programme for students with intellectual disabilities

Universidad Andrés Bello (UAB) is a private Chilean university with a main campus in Santiago, and further campuses in Concepción and Viña del Mar. It has developed a structured three-year vocational training programme for students with intellectual disabilities, fully housed within the university campuses. The programme develops employment skills in specific industries and supports students’ transition to work. Since 2006, there have been 360 graduates, 72 per cent of whom are now employed. The programme runs at all three campuses and has been replicated in universities in Argentina, Mexico, and Spain.

“The resilience and perseverance of my students has taught me much more than I ever imagined.”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Socio-labour training programme in a university setting
Organisation:Universidad de Andrés Bello
of Implementation
Chile/ Santiago
Start Year2006


  • In 2018, 136 students were enrolled in the programme over the university’s three campuses.


In Chile, young people with intellectual disabilities have limited access to vocational training in mainstream higher education settings, and often have to attend specialist education centres instead.


The first year of the programme focuses on developing the cognitive, linguistic, and social skills necessary for future work activity and helps students to identify their strengths and interests for future employment. In the second year, students acquire specific skills by choosing modules in one of five areas: administration, education, catering, gardening, and veterinary skills. In the third year, students gain work experience at companies in their chosen fields. Learning materials are designed to be accessible to students with intellectual disabilities, and personalized support is offered by teachers as needed. Students have access to all the extracurricular activities on campus, for example, sports programmes and dance classes, and meet peers from other study programmes through these activities.

At the end of the program, students graduate with a job skills diploma. Throughout the programme university staff also work with potential employers to identify the key skills needed in each industry, and they support employers to offer inclusive work environments to graduates of the programme

Studies show an increase in social skills, autonomy, and self-esteem in the young people who have taken the programme, and 87 per cent of parents report being very satisfied with the programme.

Man with head phones sits in front of microphone, recording for an online radio program.

Students gain work experience at companies, such as at an online radio programme.


Students pay a fee of approximately $5,000 per year, in line with fees for other programs at the university. Those who cannot afford the fee are granted scholarships through donations from private companies, banks, and other institutions. In 2019, 30 per cent of students were supported by scholarship.
The fee finances the cost of teachers, assistants, labour supervisors, and materials. The university provides the infrastructure and general administration expenses. There is no state contribution.

The programme started with 35 students in Santiago in 2006 and had 136 participants across its three campuses in 2018. As well as replicating the programme to its other campuses, UAB has also supported three universities to replicate the programme in Argentina, Mexico, and Spain, and it is looking to expand it further.



Maria Theresa von Fürstenberg Letelier


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