Virginia was one of four states to receive the RSA funded Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities grant. As VR programs implement career pathways focused services and activities, it seems clear that this is a developing Partnership Plus opportunity.
Career Pathways as an approach to VR services starts with a focus on industry-recognized credential attainment that leads to employment in high demand occupations. Many of the occupations in some high-demand industry clusters do not require bachelor’s degrees, but rather industry-recognized credentials. Many include work-based learning opportunities such as OJT and Registered Apprenticeships. Often, these are referred to as middle-skill jobs in the $40,000 to $60,000 pay range. To get to these occupations for our VR beneficiaries requires business engagement and a demand side approach to working with businesses. That is, identifying high demand jobs in a specific area and the industry requirements in terms of credentials, culture, and work ethic. By listening to businesses and understanding the industry requirements for credentials and work skills, the VR Agency and the EN partner are in a position to make sure the client enters and stays on a career path. A role for the EN after handoff is to provide supports so the beneficiary continues to gain confidence and skills. The EN can also identify when the beneficiary is ready to move to the next step on the career path. ENs should delineate their services that will support VR program efforts to implement career pathway models. Some of the value-added services may include work incentives and benefits counseling, specialized supported employment services, mentoring supports or providing resources for additional credential attainment.
Being a partner in service development can result in the EN receiving clients at hand-off that are in good paying, high demand occupations. By also understanding the business need, the EN can support the beneficiary to fully engage in the pathway, helping the beneficiary take advantage of advancement opportunities. By studying the Career Pathway definition, in particular the Comprehensive Support Services, EN’s can prepare for this new service model.
To better understand the RSA Career Pathways model, please click here to access the PDF: RSA Career Pathways Definition – 072017.