Transition-to-Work Program

QWE Practice Guideline: 311 – Develop relationships with local organizations and the business community to provide opportunities for enhancing skills development and employment

Target group: Any organization supporting and/or employing individuals with disabilities

Practice Description

Providing real-life work experience and training to help youth with disabilities gain competitive employment upon their transition out of high school.

Resources Needed

Subject matter experts/trainers

  • Staff or consultants with knowledge of disability employment, Transition-to-Work program, business development
    • Staff should include 1 special education teacher and 1-3 skills trainers


  • Host company to provide training space for up to 12 youth

Labor hours

  • Time for staff to prepare for the program and provide training over the course of a year

Implementation Process

  • Process
    • Work site is researched and selected as the main training space for the year
      • A department mentor is selected at the site and will interact with the participants, offer guidance, and provide feedback
    • Staff are selected and begin the process of connecting with participants
    • Participants are referred from local high schools, must be in their last year of school, and have an Individual Education Program in place
      • Referrals can come from the high school, a family member, or Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
    • Participants complete tours, interviews, and assessments to be considered for the program
    • Classroom training takes roughly 1 hour and is focused on employment skills including:
      • Team Building
      • Workplace Safety
      • Technology 
      • Maintaining Employment
      • Self-advocacy
      • Financial Literacy
      • Health and Wellness
      • Preparing for Employment
  • Participants also complete a series of 3 un-paid internships, which allow for real-world use of the skills learned in the classroom 
  • Internship sessions are roughly 5 hours each day and include a 30-minute lunch break
  • Near the end of the program, participants began the job development process
  • Job development includes
    • Linking to resources in the community
    • Job searching with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
    • Job coaching and long-term supports 
    • Creation of a Career Portfolio to include
      • Resume
      • Letters of recommendation
      • Competency profile
      • Awards and/or special recognitions
    • To fully complete the program, participants must have satisfactory attendance, good attitude, and successful skill acquisition at each internship site
  • Documentation
    • SOPs
      • Policies and procedures for program creation and implementation
    • Training
      • Staff and those in supporting roles will need to be trained on the layout of the program
    • Additional program information and documentation can be obtained from 


  • Youth with disabilities obtain competitive employment opportunities that are year-round and non-seasonal
  • Employment rates after attending the program are 75% or higher
  • Over 3000 youth participate annually

Location: Cincinnati, OH
Date Submitted: 2022