In the previous LEAD On! newsletter, we told you about kicking off Oregon’s statewide Guided Group Discovery (GGD) Youth Pilot. The six pilot sites included a mix of rural and urban locations throughout Oregon. Even before schools started their summer break and sites were finishing up the curriculum, one student used the tools he learned in GGD to secure a job in his local community! All sites were able to implement GGD in a way that met their students’ needs, some breaking down the sessions into shorter periods of time to fit into various classroom schedules. All six sites were able to finish the curriculum which included the following:
• Session One: Introduction to Guided Group Discovery. In this session, students had the opportunity to get to know one another, discuss the different ways in which people tend to approach their search for employment, learn what GGD is all about, learn how the course would help them develop their Blueprint for Employment, and start to think about their personal network and how that network could assist with employment.
• Session Two: Interests and Contributions. In this session, students began to identify their interests and how they could focus their job search based on those interests. They identified and began to list the contributions they could bring to a job site while also identifying tasks they like to do.
• Session Three: Conditions, Accommodations & Disclosures. In this session, students discussed and learned how to disclose sensitive information, what job accommodations are, and how to request one if needed. Students also learned their specific conditions for employment that they will need to ensure their success on the job.
• Session Four: The Art and Science of Networking. In this session, the students’ Blueprint for Employment began to take shape. Through prior sessions, students had started to map personal contacts and understand the importance of ‘word-of-mouth’ when it comes to finding jobs. They also developed their networking pitch, a tool that helps them quickly describe who they are, the type of job they are seeking, and what they can offer an employer.
• Session Five: Putting it All Together—Taking Action! This session is meant to provide information on local resources and/or provide additional opportunity to practice some of the things learned in Guided Group Discovery. Some examples of how groups used this last session included bringing in employers to hear students’ networking pitches, taking a trip to the local American Job Center (AJC) to enroll and learn more about what the workforce system can offer them, and having a representative from vocational rehabilitation visit to discuss the services they can offer to assist in employment.
Participant demographics varied amongst groups, with some sites made up of sophomores or juniors and others mostly of seniors. Additionally, participants in some groups had more significant impact of disability than others.
All facilitators at the pilot sites reported they received enthusiastic responses to GGD from the students. All agreed that the sophomore year might be the ideal time to begin, with the option of continuing or re-running the groups during the junior and senior years to revisit and update their Blueprint for Employment.
Most of the sites were impressed with the impact of the group dynamic and reported to have seen students grow into supporting each other and helping each other to identify their strengths. The facilitators found the lessons impactful in that they also saw the sessions as a great confidence booster for the students.
LEAD is currently collecting data regarding the students’ increased level of knowledge regarding resources such as Vocational Rehabilitation, WorkSource, Community Programs/Brokerages, Supported Employment, WIPA, etc. Data is also being collected regarding the increased ability to identify students’ interests, skills, abilities, and positive personality traits in order to help them with their job searches. LEAD will also look at students’ increased knowledge about disclosure, requesting accommodations for their specific disability, and their comfort level with their networking pitch. LEAD Center also will be collecting data from the Transition Network Facilitators once students return to school to see if students used the tools they learned to secure employment over summer break and the extent to which it reflected what they identified in their Blueprint for Employment.