Competitive integrated employment refers to jobs held by people with disabilities in typical workplace settings (not sheltered workshops) where the majority of individuals are not employees with disabilities, where they earn at least minimum wage, and where they are paid directly by the employer. Simply stated, competitive integrated employment is real work for real pay. To achieve this gold standard of work, families, schools, vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies and other adult service agencies need to actively collaborate in transition planning for the student. One of the key activities in transition planning is for the student to participate in a paid work experience prior to high school graduation. The importance of paid work experience as a significant predicator of post-school employment for youth with disabilities has been well documented (Carter, Austin, & Trainor, 2012; Gold & Fabian, & Luecking, 2013; Test et al., 2009). Services that include real work experiences as a key intervention component are found to have higher rates of youth transitioning into integrated employment (Luecking & Luecking, 2013). These findings are consistent regardless of disability category, where one lives, or their socio-economic status (Gold, Fabian & Luecking, 2013). Therefore, competitive integrated employment is a realistic and desirable expectation for all youth who choose to work, regardless of disability label or need for accommodation and support.
Evolving federal transition and disability employment policy increasingly reflects the presumption of employability for all individuals with disabilities. The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004, and the recently enacted Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) (2014) are each predicated on the expectation that services delivered through their respective mandates are available to and will benefit all individuals with disabilities to whom the services apply. These policies make employment possible for all categories of youth, regardless of disability, need for support, and economic circumstance.Read less >
Research has demonstrated that employment is associated with an individual’s overall quality of life or assessment of his/her well-being (Canha, Simoes, Owens, 2013). However, employment outcomes of youth with disabilities consistently lag behind those of their non-disabled peers. A Department of Labor report cited that only 26% of youth with disabilities are employed after high school, compared to almost 64% of their nondisabled peers (2013). Additionally, individuals with disabilities experience the highest rates of poverty of any subcategory of Americans charted by the Census Bureau. Alarmingly, 27 %, or more than 4 million, of the nearly 30 million individuals with disabilities ages 18–64 live in poverty, more than double the rate of the entire population in the same age group (Office of Disability Employments Policy, 2013).Read less >
To improve employment outcomes for students with disabilities, there should be clear expectations that all students will have a paid work experience in the community while in high school, whether through the school or by other means. Along with work experiences, vocational training is also an important aspect of transition and should be incorporated into transition planning practices (Wehman, et al., 2014). Encouraging the student to participate in vocational training which aligns with his/her career interests, as well as work-based learning experiences, such as job shadowing, work sampling, volunteer work, and service learning will assist the student in becoming more prepared and knowledgeable about the world of work.
It is equally important for staff working with transition-age youth to have the resources and flexibility to continuously develop, maintain, and expand a network of employer contacts from which the youth can access for job interviews, job tours, work experiences, and ultimately, paid employment. Employment specialists need to have opportunities to get to know employers and learn about their hiring practices, job requirements, and special employment concerns. To make this feasible, it is important to allow staff responsible for these tasks to flex their time to meet the needs of employers (e.g., weekend and evening hours).Read less >
Team members are unsure how to approach businesses for work experience opportunities.
Students do not have time in their academic schedule to participate in work experiences or only a select number of students have the opportunity to participate in work experiences.
Job Seeker Tools
Employer Outreach Tools
When Using the Positive Personal Profile
Canha, L., Simoes, C., Owens, L.A., & Matos, M. (2013). The importance of perceived quality of life and personal resources in transition from school to life. The European Journal of Social and Behavioural Sciences, (eISSN: 2301-2218).
Carter, Erik W., Diane Austin, and Audrey A. Trainor. (2012). Predictors of post school employment outcomes for young adults with severe disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 23, 50–63.
Gold, P.B., Fabian, E.S. & Luecking, R.G. (2013). Job acquisition by urban youth with disabilities transitioning from school to work. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 57, 31 –45.
Luecking, D.M. & Luecking, R. (2013). Translating research into a seamless transition model. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, published Online 10/25/13. DOI: 10.1177/2165143413508978
Office of Disability Employments Policy, 2013. https://www.dol.gov/odep/.
Test, D., Mazzotti, V.L., Mustian, A.L., & Fowler, C.H. (2009). Evidence-based secondary transition predictors for improving postschool outcomes for students with disabilities Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 32(3), 160–181.
Wehman, P., Sima, A., Ketchum, J., West, M., Chan, F., & Luecking, R. (2014). Predictors of Successful Transition from School to Employment for Youth with Disabilities. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. Advance online publication. doi:10:1007/s10926-014-9541-6.Read less >