WIOA Brings More Opportunities For Young Adults With Disabilities

Teenage years are an interesting time of transition between a carefree childhood to a (more or less) responsible adulthood. Years ago, it was very common for someone to get their first job in their teens. However, today’s teen unemployment rates are triple the nationwide unemployment rate in the US! 

However, today’s teen unemployment rates are triple the nationwide unemployment rate in the US!

Over and over again we hear that students lack essential skills needed for work success. Now you may ask yourself: Why? Are there even opportunities for teen employment? Are they focusing their energy on other activities? Or maybe they’re just being lazy?

Back in 2013, we told you about Senator Tom Harkin’s Act for expanded on-the-job opportunities for young adults with disabilities. Here is a recap from our original blog post:

This is important and exciting news for teachers and parents of students with transition challenges: Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is currently pushing for improved on-the-job opportunities for young men and women with disabilities while they are still in school through a reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act. He is looking to make this issue a top priority as Congress prepares to address a major employment bill. The changes that Senator Harkin is hoping to make would have vocational rehabilitation agencies take a larger role in helping disabled youth find: 

  •  Internships
  • Job opportunities
  • And other real-world experiences that would aid them in school-to-work transition.”

And now the GOOD NEWS! In July of 2014, the Workforce Investment & Opportunity Act (WIOA) passed!

Here are just a few of our favorite highlights from the passing of the WIOA:

  • Helps increase pathways that will lead to successful outcomes for youth in education and workforce initiatives
  • “Early warning systems” that identify students at risk of dropping out and provide them with services designed to keep them in school and help ensure their continues progress as they transition from school to work.
  • Enhances opportunities that focus on: re entry and completion of secondary education, enrollment in postsecondary education, and multiple pathways to secondary and postsecondary success.
  • Ensuring individuals with disabilities have the skills necessary to be successful in businesses that provide competitive, integrated employment.

Although WIOA had a rough start and a delayed authorization, we are happy to announce that the WIOA has now been fully authorized and launched. It is currently helping young adults enroll in skills and career programs to find jobs in today’s economy. This is a great step forward for teens and young adults with disabilities who are currently not connected to school or work or for those who are at risk of becoming disconnected.

As the Specialists in Special Education, we are aware that school-to-work transitions can be difficult for students. We are also aware that many students are not prepared for the workforce, lacking basic soft skills and work skills needed for work success. We hope that the passing of the Workforce Investment & Opportunity Act (WIOA) will help to change this and make transitioning into a career after school easier for students with disabilities, as well as provide them with the core soft skills and work skills needed for success.

… many students are not prepared for the workforce, lacking basic soft skills and work skills needed for work success.

Things such as internships and summer jobs can provide a foundation for these students as they transition to an independent adult life and can teach them about what the boss and employers want in an employee.

We have noticed an increase in diverse opportunities related to the workforce, as more and more reports show that a growing number of companies are providing jobs to people with developmental disabilities. This creates secure employment opportunities for those with special needs and allows them to learn attributes needed for workplace success.

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At James Stanfield, We Think You Should Know:

Transitioning from school to work and actually being prepared for the workforce is difficult for most high school students- especially so for those with developmental disabilities. We want all students to have the opportunity to develop core skills needed for work success. Our goal is for you to be able to teach your students what the boss wants! 2500 employers told us what they wanted…we listened and created the First Job Survival Skills series. To find out more about First Job Survival Skills, click here.


To find out everything you need to know about the WIOA, click here!

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