We work together with local school districts to customize vocational-career/transition services that meet the needs of each district and their students. Utilizing resources within school districts as well as facilitating the access to adult service agencies are crucial aspects of creating transition programs that work. Through collaborating with school administration and faculty we hope to give each student the best opportunity for a successful transition that not only links school to work, but students to careers.
One of our many customized service models is Career Links, which was created through a collaborative effort involving school administrators, faculty, and adult service agencies. The Career Links model is being utilized by school districts to help serve students who are in need of work experience in the community. The goal of Career Links is to help students make a seamless transition from school to work and we help them achieve this goal by linking students to community employers.
The Career Links model of service focuses on three key aspects of service delivery:
- Customized services using a menu approach
- Active employer participation
- Scheduled services by appointment
Some of the services in Career Links are:
- Career planning
- Employment preparation-how to complete job applications, mock interviews, resumes
- Functional work assessments
- Student portfolio development
- Direct job placement
Employer involvement is essential to the success of the students; therefore the employers themselves complete assessments. The features of Career Links have been built into the program in order to mitigate possible pitfalls and maximize opportunities for student success.
For those individuals requiring Transition services, Work Opportunities Unlimited provides the following Outcomes:
- Complete a Customized Service Plan (within 60 days)
- Prepare Client for Job Search (within 60 days)
- Work Assessment/Career Exploration (as needed)
- Obtain a Job (within 90 days)
- Retain Employment for at least 180 days
- Achieve Customized Plan Goals
A Work Opportunities Unlimited
Student Success Story
Synopsis: This video is a great example of how our high school program works. It features Nick and shares his success story working for CTAC, a community partner located in Manchester, NH. Narrated by David Dwyer, Senior Vice President and Vocational Division Leader.
Preparation for Job Search
Upon entering services with Work Opportunities Unlimited, each customer participates in an Employment Preparation Assessment which includes evaluating a person’s ability to fill out a job application, their resume skills, interviewing skills. From there the customer is trained on the skills necessary to be proficient with job applications, interviewing and resume development. In conjunction with skill training, accommodations to be sought for securing a job are outlined. The purpose of these activities is to create an effective job seeking strategy that allows for the maximum participation of the customer receiving services.
Customized Service Planning
The person-centered plan called the initial Customized Service Plan, is completed within 30 days after Work Opportunities Unlimited has been chosen as a customer’s provider. The goal of this service is to provide an opportunity for the customer to make informed decisions about their goals and services; and to communicate their plan to his/her support network. After the initial Customized Service Plan has been completed the customer can alter it at any time. At the very minimum, the Customized Service Plan will be updated and the process revisited on an annual basis. The Customized Service Plan is designed to help the customer prepare for and develop goals and objectives for their annual plan meeting, as well as, establish outcomes pertaining to employment.
The planning process begins with describing the process to the customer in order to assess interest and understanding. If following this description, the customer consents to taking part in the planning process then it must be decided who will be part of the Planning Team. The Planning Team can consist of any person the customer would like to participate. In the past, the Planning Team has included such people as: parents, Service Coordinators, friends, and other family members. The Planning Team will have an opportunity to contribute to the plan and review the goals and objectives once the customer has completed their plan. Once the planning team has been identified and the meeting date has been scheduled, the first one-on-one meeting with the customer will take place. This meeting includes only the plan facilitator and the customer in order to provide a relaxing and non-confrontational atmosphere in which to work. At this meeting the facilitator explains the process in detail, the maps that are available to be filled out, and the goal of the process. The goal of this meeting is to empower the customer by helping them see the value of long-term planning and how they can control that plan. By the end of the one-on-one meetings information will have been gathered pertaining to the customer’s personal interests, history, and preferences. Now it is time for the customer to present the plan to their Planning Team. The final meeting will culminate in the confirmation of the goals and objectives, as well as, the Customized Plan Outcomes (hours, wages, level of support, and transportation method).
Work Assessment/Career Exploration
How can you know what job you want if you’ve never been exposed to a wide range of workplaces? Work Opportunities Unlimited arranges job shadowing, workplace tours, volunteer positions, and career exploration to help consumers decide whether a particular field is appropriate to their needs and skills. Work Opportunities Unlimited’s partner/employers and staff work with consumers to expand knowledge of the world of work.
In order to increase the chances for successful independence and achievement on the job, a job match must be developed. Work Opportunities Unlimited learns about the customer through Customized Service Planning. At the culmination of the planning process, WOU facilitates the achievement of the employment goals of the customer. This facilitation includes teaching the customer to fulfill their roles and responsibilities of the job search, as well as, fulfilling the roles and responsibilities designated for WOU.
The WOU team contacts companies that are relevant to the customer’s job goal and those that are specifically identified in the Plan. These companies are contacted with the intent of meeting with them to conduct an analysis of their jobs and to ascertain the hiring needs of the company. It is during this analysis that the staff person introduces the concept of “job carving” if job tasks will need to be added or omitted in order to facilitate a job match. In some cases, a job shadow might be utilized if the customer would like or would benefit from seeing the job and the company to determine if the job will be a suitable match to their interests.
Retaining the Job
Once a job placement has been secured, a Retention Plan is created which outlines the expectations of the employer, the skills of the customer and the intervention strategies to be implemented in order for the customer to meet the employer’s expectations. The staff person, customer, and the employer work together to identify interventions that will be implemented to raise the customer’s performance level to meet expectations.
Our goal is to progress the person to the highest level of independence possible to ensure the customer meets the expectations of the employer, which in turn provides opportunity for the customer within their company. It is during the first 90 days of employment that many strategies are implemented via job site supports and off site supports. Some of the strategies include: natural support development, adaptive equipment, training for coworkers, job site modification, task adaptation, and prompting strategies. In many cases, the details regarding transportation are also being worked out during the first 90 days on the job.
Once the customer has successfully transitioned into the work environment and they understand their responsibilities, the supports needed to insure the ongoing success of the job are implemented. WOU takes a pro-active approach to supports. WOU believes that the development of natural supports is necessary to the long-term success of each customer. Natural supports are a product of good communication and relationship building, both of which are positive outcomes. The development of natural supports has included the following: ASL, seizure training, and the learning style of the customer. The ultimate goal is to assist the customer in achieving their goals relative to work hours, pay rate, independence, transportation, and community involvement.
Achieving Customized Plan Goals
The ultimate goal is to assist each customer in the achievement of the goals and objectives identified at the beginning of the service. The customer’s job goal and the objectives to achieve that goal will be the primary focus, therefore data will be collected to measure progress. In addition, to the goal and objectives the customer will have identified his/her preferences regarding the following:
- Hours worked per week
- Wage earned per hour
- Method of transportation
- Supervision level
- Community hours per week
Once a job placement is secured, the job vitals are compared to the customer’s preferences cited above to determine the degree to which the preferences have been achieved. If the preferences have not yet been met, then additional services and action items will be identified in order to achieve those preferences.