Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) are designed to support high school students with disabilities in their transition from school into adult life. In order to pave the way for employment, Pre-ETS services provide vocational exploration, hard and soft skills training, and competitive integrated vocational experiences to high school students aged 14 through 21 (up to 22nd birthday).
Pre-ETS staff takes a person-centered approach in supporting youth as they work toward achieving integrated community employment. Staff members conduct an introductory meeting and initial screening with each student, collecting information on individual interests, skills, abilities, and supports needed, in order to develop a comprehensive support plan. Youth then work within the Pre-ETS curriculum and framework to develop soft and hard job skills through the following service components:
Workplace Readiness Training
The Workplace Readiness Training component is designed to assist high school students with disabilities in preparing for employment through soft-skills training, job-search training, and other related trainings. A 20-hour, classroom-based training program is offered to students five times per year:
- February and April vacations, Tuesday through Friday;
- Two, summer sessions, Tuesday through Friday;
- A series of four Saturday sessions to be held in the fall months
Training content allows staff to work with students in areas such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, professionalism, networking, self-evaluation, job-search training, computers and media, resume and cover letter preparation, job application tasks, interviewing (with mock interviews), thank you letters and follow-ups, and travel and transportation.
Job Exploration Counseling
The primary focus of the Job Exploration Counseling component is to assist students in identifying and learning about job opportunities in particular occupations and industry sectors, including career assessment and planning. Students work with a highly skilled vocational rehabilitation counselor for a total of 12 hours over a three-week period on Saturdays or after school. During this period, the student and counselor develop an individualized and person-centered career or post-secondary education plan that includes both long- and short-term goals, and leads to vocational planning and independence.
Work-Based Learning Experience/Internships
Within the Work-Based Learning Experience/Internship component, students apply all of the knowledge gathered through their training and job exploration, and apply it in a community-based setting within their area of interest. The ASPiRE! youth transition coordinator builds upon existing established relationships with businesses in the community that match the needs/interest of students to develop a fifty-hour paid internship in a competitive integrated employment opportunity for students supported.
To qualify for ASPiRE! Pre-ETS, students with disabilities must be potentially eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation Services from MRC or MCB or who are VR-eligible AND enrolled in high school or post-secondary education including but not limited to those receiving services through an IEP or Section 504 plan. Referrals can be made directly from schools and other referral services as well as from MRC vocational rehabilitation counselors.
The vocational rehabilitation counselor provides counseling on enrollment in post-secondary education and/or other comprehensive transition training programs services through Saturday or after-school workshops that help students with the process of preparing applications for enrollment in post-secondary education. A self-advocacy/mentoring component provides after-school programming where students meet with peer mentors for guidance and support.
“Our Pre-ETS program introduces students to the world of employment, exploring career interests, developing the skills necessary for success, and providing real-world experience through paid internships.” – Karen Chiurri, program manager, employment at ASPiRE!