LEAD Center’s Continuing Work on Inclusive Career Pathways
In October 2016, LEAD Center hosted a three-week National Dialogue on Promoting Inclusive Career Pathways, which is one of LEAD Center’s areas of interest. Inclusive career pathways are programs and approaches designed to support people whose career options have been limited because they lack the academic and/or technical skills necessary to complete the credentialing requirements of many key high-demand and high-growth career opportunities. The Dialogue was conducted in collaboration with the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and ePolicyWorks. The 296 participants in the National Dialogue, with registrants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, were prompted to respond to questions such as, “What ideas do you have to increase access to career pathways for people with disabilities?” Additional prompts were provided to focus the discussion on Successful Strategies, Barriers and Challenges, and Suggestions for Training and Technical Assistance. Nearly two-thirds of all ideas and comments focused on Successful Strategies.
The top five ideas, based on votes and comments, focused on: (1) the need to raise parental expectations that their children, as adults, will work in inclusive settings in jobs that capitalize on their strengths and interests; (2) issues related to the lack of reliable transportation, which can result in people with marketable skills missing out on opportunities for employment; (3) the need to integrate and support people with disabilities into credentialing programs for high-demand high-growth industries; (4) the importance of career assessments for youth that align with the “discovery” process, in that they are interactive, experiential, and ongoing to capture skills, interests, and conditions of employment so that youth are most likely to be successful; and (5) the importance of business/school partnerships, so that youth can gain hands-on experiences, have business-based mentors, have opportunities for practice skills that will be needed to get and keep a job, etc.
The results of this dialogue will support LEAD Center’s and ODEP’s work on career and economic advancement for people with disabilities. LEAD Center will continue to develop and disseminate information on approaches, resources and strategies to promote careers for people whose options may be otherwise limited. The 62 ideas, and more than 200 comments provided by participants in this National Dialogue, have been a springboard that LEAD Center will continue to use to collect additional ideas and develop materials for the field that promote inclusive career pathways initiatives and full workplace inclusion.