Teaching Skills

Young woman working with job coach

(From TennesseeWorks)

What Skills are Important to the Success of Young People with Disabilities in the Workplace?

Certain work-related skills and attitudes are important for almost any job. In fact, there is already considerable agreement abut the range of social, vocational, and self-determination skills that can contribute to success in the workplace and predict future employment (Carter et al., 2009; Hughes & Carter, 2012). For example, most employers are looking for employees who are willing to accept feedback, show up on time, and have a strong work ethic. Other examples of important work-related skills and attitudes are listed below and shown in the box:

Unfortunately, many young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) leave high school without having the opportunity to learn, practice, and refine these skills within and beyond the classroom.

Why are These Skills so Important to Teach?

Businesses are looking for employees who can make valued contributions within the workplace. When considering whether to hire a young person with a disability, they will want to know that the individual can either already do the job or can readily learn the skills needed to be successful. Of course, developing strong social- and work-related skills is key to keeping a job for the long term. The earlier young people begin learning and strengthening these skills, the better. Don’t wait until they get their first job to begin providing relevant instruction. While specific vocational training is required for most jobs, general work-related skills such as the ability to follow directions, accept and learn from feedback, and work well with others, are just as important and can be learned in a variety of contexts.

How Do I Teach Skills?

Teaching work-related skills and attitudes can go hand-in-hand with career exploration activities. During the early years of high school, have students role play scenarios they might experience in the workplace. Schools can also provide opportunities for job shadowing, workplace tours, or career days where young people can interact firsthand with employers in their community.

When young people are exposed to their first work experiences later in high school, supervisors, families, and educators should make sure the student is receiving consistent feedback and instruction on relevant work-related skills and attitudes. Keep in mind that none of us are perfect at all of these things all the time. For some people, working well with others comes easily. For others, it will take practice. Young people with disabilities have their own work preferences. However, it is important to keep in mind that the reality of the working world involves challenging ourselves and stepping outside of comfort zones.

Where Can I Learn More About Teaching Employment-Related Skills?

The following links include strategies and other resources related to teaching young people with disabilities the skills they will need to find success in the workplace:

NCWD Soft Skills web page image

Helping Youth Develop Soft Skills for Job Success: Tips for Parents and Families

Helping Youth Develop Soft Skills for Job Success: Tips for Parents and Families [link] This InfoBrief discusses the importance of ...
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Transition skills webpage image

Transition Goals and Activities for Inclusive Postsecondary Programs

Transition Goals and Activities for Inclusive Postsecondary Programs [link] "This table provides several goals and related activities that can be ...
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Career Development checklist image

Career Development Checklist

Career Development Checklist [link] The following checklist is offered as a guide to not only assist students to find jobs ...
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youth.gov webpage image

Career Exploration and Skill Development on youth.gov

Career Exploration and Skill Development on youth.gov [link] Features numerous resources to help youth get a sense of their interest ...
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College and Career Readiness webpage image

College and Career Readiness (CCR) for Students on the Alternative Diploma

College and Career Readiness (CCR) for Students on the Alternative Diploma [link] "CCR for Students Using Alternate Assessment is a KY ...
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Thought Sauce website image

Thought Sauce! Hot Ideas for Cool Employment

Thought Sauce! Hot Ideas for Cool Employment [link] "Griffin-Hammis Associates and it's not-for-profit arm, The Center for Social Capital, compiled ...
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Work-Based Learning Booklet image.

Work-Based Learning Opportunities for High School Students

Work-Based Learning Opportunities for High School Students [link] Booklet by the National Institute for Work and Learning about how to ...
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Skills to ay the Bills Booklet Image

Skills to Pay the Bills (with videos)

Skills to Pay the Bills [link] This booklet from the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy helps students ...
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NTACT Transition Plan website image

National Technical Assistance Center on Transition: Teaching Skills

Lesson Plans for Teaching Employment Skills [link] The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition provides a number of education-based resources ...
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Positive Work Behaviors

General Work Behaviors

Work Production-Related Behaviors

Task-Related Social Behaviors

Non Task-Related Social Behaviors

[The above skills were identified in Carter & Wehby (2003)]