School-based Preparatory Experiences Jump Start
School-based preparatory experiences are those core activities that help youth become prepared for a successful future in careers or postsecondary education institutions. They include the core activities of career assessments (formal and informal), introduces the concept of opportunity awareness (guest speakers, informational interviews, research-based activities, community mapping, exposures to post secondary education) and work-readiness skills (soft-skills development, computer competency and job search skills).
Helping youth make informed choices about what they want to do as adults is the root of why school-based preparatory experiences are so essential. Assisting youth to negotiate the transition from school to employment and further education means, in part, preparing them to adjust to the workplace and the performance of work. In a major sense, what happens during the preparatory (work-readiness) stage of career development can significantly affect the transition to employment of the young person. A stable, smooth, and supportive transition to employment can reduce the problems of unemployment and productivity that sometimes plague young workers, particularly those with disabilities.
Someone is "work-ready" when they can make the educational and vocational decisions and perform the kinds of educational and vocational tasks (behaviors) that are expected by schools and employers (Sarkees-Wircenski & Scott, 1995). Individuals differ in their readiness to deal with career development tasks at the "expected" or "appointed" time. Some youth are more aware than others of the work-related decisions that must be made at various points in their lives, and are therefore, better equipped to enter and participate in the world of work. Research indicates that youth with disabilities tend to lag behind their peers in readiness for the career development process (Faas, D'Alonzo & Stile, 1990). Family involvement in skill development has been shown to positively contribute to the development of work-readiness skills for youth with and without disabilities (Mooney, 1998; Way & Rossmann, 1996).
A number of sources (Clark, 1999; Clark & Patton, 1997; National Council on Disabilities, 2000; Schelly, Kothe & Sample, 1995) identify assessment as an integral component of a successful post-secondary transition program for students with disabilities.
Formal and informal career assessments should be conducted periodically to:
Not only can career assessment provide valuable information about work-readiness skills, it can also provide insight into basic skills levels, vocational interests, vocational aptitudes and abilities, and learning styles. Effective transition plans and services often depend on reliable and useful assessment data.
Career assessment is important for all youth transitioning to adult roles, but it is particularly important for youth with disabilities. Many youth with disabilities experience a variety of difficulties handling the realities of work demands, and career assessment offers them the opportunity to discover their career, transition, and pinpoint to their vocational and educational strengths. Both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the School-to-Work Opportunities Act (STWOA) identify career assessment as integral to assisting youth to make informed choices and set realistic goals for their successful transitioning to adulthood (Leconte & Neubert, 1997).
High School/High Tech (HS/HT) Program Guide
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET)
Job Accommodations Network
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Clark, G.M. (1999). Making the delivery of transition services collaborative: An epilogue. In S.H. DeFur & J.R. Patton (Eds.), Transition and school-based services (pp. 443-453). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
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