Ongoing Efforts of the Employment Partnerships Workgroup

A national collaborative workgroup focused on Employment Partnership has been formed to address the challenges with system collaboration. This summary provides insight into what the workgroup has gathered during its first year on enhancing system collaboration to increase paid employment opportunities for students with ID enrolled in IPSE programs as well as the ongoing efforts of the workgroup in Year Two. 

First-Year Focus

During the first year of the Workgroup, the focus was on recruiting members and identifying the current landscape of employment partnerships within IPSE programs serving students with ID. This included identifying what contributed to successful system-level collaboration and what hindered that collaboration. 

The Workgroup found that while great things are happening across the country, many programs continue to lack opportunities. The Workgroup described issues such as the lack of consistency among the quality of IPSE programs; differing interpretations of Vocational Rehabilitation policy; low expectations of employment for people with ID from families, programs, agency staff, and employers; lack of knowledge of IPSE programs; and lack of adequately trained IPSE staff, to name a few. 

The Workgroup identified four core contributors to employment partners across systems in collaborating with IPSE programs to enhance paid employment opportunities for students with ID: 1) legislation/policy, 2) communication, 3) knowledge and perception of IPSE programs and college students with ID, and 4) engagement with employers. 

Next Steps for the Workgroup

Moving into Year 2, the Employment Partnerships Workgroup will focus on addressing the barriers to paid employment opportunities for college students with ID. It is not enough to just identify the current successes and barriers to enhancing employment collaborations; the Workgroup will need to formulate a plan to address and take action on the previously identified barriers and facilitators to employment. Based on work in the first year, the Workgroup members identified focusing its work on the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) system as having a critical role in enhancing access to IPSE programs and paid employment for students with ID. Year 2 goals and deliverables will focus on developing a plan to engage and support VR partnerships across the country through training, information, and resources that can lead to increased student engagement and employment.

Get Involved

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If you are interested in sharing your experience with employment partnerships or having your program highlighted as a success story, reach out to Jaclyn Camden.