Professional Development



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To make the transition from school to adult life and the world of work, adolescents and young adults need support from caring competent adults. Youth service professionals (adults who work directly with youth) require a mix of competencies from the youth development, education, workforce development, and disability fields. Research shows the professional development of staff (attaining skills and knowledge through training or experience) leads to better practice with youth, improves program quality, and increases positive youth outcomes.

Professional Development Strategies & Tools


10 Competency Areas

  1. Knowledge of Field
  2. Communication with Youth
  3. Assessment and Individualized Planning
  4. Relationship to Family and Community
  5. Workforce Preparation
  6. Career Exploration
  7. Relationships with Employers & Between Employer and Employee
  8. Connection to Resources
  9. Program Design and Delivery
  10. Administrative Skills

Youth Service Professionals' Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities Professional Development Demonstration and Evaluation (YSP/KSA Demo).

With support from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) conducted a demonstration and evaluation project in 2014-2016 to demonstrate the value of and further grow a professional development system for youth service professionals to improve program quality and service delivery for all youth, including youth with disabilities. Three YSP/KSA Demo sites received four free full-day trainings in the core competencies that youth service professionals need to work with all youth; content-rich materials and resources; and pre- and post-training technical assistance from experts in youth development, workforce development, and disability. Results of the evaluation are expected to be released in 2017.


Youth Workforce Leaders Academy in the District of Columbia uses YSP/KSA Training Module Content

Call for Applications for 2017-2018 Academy - Deadline is December 9, 2016


YSP/KSA Training Modules

NCWD/Youth has developed the Youth Service Professionals' Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities Training Modules to strengthen youth professionals’ competencies for working with and connecting all youth, including youth with disabilities, to workforce, educational, and independent living opportunities.

Online Study Guide

NCWD/Youth has developed an online study guide that includes competency-specific learning objectives, selected activities, demonstrations of learning, and resources for each of the competencies identified in all 10 Competency Areas. The study guide will be updated on a regular basis so check back often.

KSA JumpStart

NCWD/Youth has developed a quick guide to the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to work with all youth. This quick guide includes an overview, research, audience-specific questions, tools, and strategies for professional development.



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