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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition: Creating opportunities for youth with disabilities to achieve successful futures.

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This topic explores how schools and employers can work together to provide youth with opportunities to learn about work and prepare for future careers.


There is great value in work-based learning experiences for youth with disabilities. Research and practice have consistently shown that these experiences significantly enhance secondary and postsecondary education performance and provide the springboard to successful adult employment. These experiences may include job-shadowing (exposing students to actual work settings), volunteer and paid work, formal and informal internships, apprenticeships, and a variety of other learning opportunities based in places of employment.

The availability of work-based learning experiences is based on employers’ willingness to participate; therefore, it is critical that education and transition programs effectively engage employers for these purposes. This means recruiting them, identifying common ground on which to base education/business relationships, managing those relationships, and constantly monitoring and evaluating the benefits to all involved parties.

Since employers will always be seeking qualified workers to compete in an international economy, the recruitment, retention, and training of productive employees continues to be a challenge for employers in almost every industry sector. The best partnerships between schools and businesses address the human resource needs of employers while simultaneously providing meaningful career development opportunities for youth.

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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
Institute on Community Integration
University of Minnesota
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This page was last updated on January 12, 2022.