Employment is a crucial aspect of a youth’s journey towards adulthood. Families of youth, including youth with disabilities, play a vital role in helping youth explore careers that match their strengths and interests and in helping youth understand the importance of building basic work skills so they are prepared for employment. The term “work skills” may seem vague, but it simply refers to basic abilities and habits employers are looking for in their employees. Work skills are a combination of “hard skills,” the foundational skills that employers desire like reading, writing, and math, and “soft skills,” the common-sense, everyday skills, like getting along with others, that help youth succeed in all aspects of life. Many work skills have benefits that extend beyond the work place. Learning work skills can contribute to a youth’s ability to function independently in the community, have positive experiences in postsecondary education, and thrive in social situations.
This InfoBrief addresses the need for youth to acquire work skills and offers strategies parents and families can use to work with their youth to develop skills that lead to success on the job. In addition, this InfoBrief includes information on how to incorporate work skill development into school documents, such as the Individualized Education Program and the Summary of Performance.