Learning new skills to get you ahead
If the job you want requires specialized skills, you may need to seek job training or pursue post-secondary education at a college, vocational school, or university.
You will learn about job training and post-secondary education in this section.
What is job training?
Job training provides a job seeker with the specific knowledge and skills for a specific type of work. There are several reasons to get job training, including:
- You want to enhance your skills.
- You want a new job that requires a new skill.
- You want to obtain certification or licensing to make you stand out among job applicants.
- You may find that specific certification or educational levels are required for the jobs or industry in which you want to work.
- You want to work in an industry that is rapidly changing or highly competitive.
- You are having trouble getting job interviews and think that perhaps your job skills need to be updated.
Where can you go to get the job training you need?
A variety of public and private settings offer training including, schools, One-Stop Career Centers, trade unions, and vocational rehabilitation providers. At the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development website, you can search for training programs by keyword, location and occupation.
Public libraries, schools, and economic development organizations (EDOs) often offer basic computer training as well as basic education and English as a Second Language classes. Some trainings and classes may be offered for free. For a list of EDOs in Massachusetts, visit Massachusetts Directory of Economic Development Organizations.
One-Stop Career Centers may offer free computer and Internet training. One-Stops may also have other training funds available; ask at your local center.
Extensive training is sometimes offered on-the-job, as part of your employer’s orientation process or as your job advances.
What is post-secondary education?
Post-secondary education (PSE) is the education a person receives after the high school level. PSE includes community colleges, four-year colleges and institutions, vocational-technical colleges, and other forms of adult education.
For students who have intellectual disabilities, the possibility of college was traditionally not a viable option. This is changing. Individuals with a wide range of disabilities are participating in and benefiting from post secondary education. In Massachusetts, there are currently 13 PSE programs available for people with intellectual disabilities. These programs offer the needed educational supports and services for students with intellectual disabilities.
Likewise, post-secondary education is a viable option for many individuals with mental illness. Strategies such as educational coaching, peer support and facilitated access to mental health services can be key to a student’s success.
Why pursue a post secondary education?
Studies show that students with disabilities who participate in PSE have increased self-esteem and expanded social networks that include students with and without disabilities.
Another reason is earnings. Students with disabilities who participate in postsecondary education typically have higher-paying jobs. A recent study of youth with intellectual disabilities (ID) showed that those who pursued PSE as part of their Individualized Plan for Employment (a plan developed for individuals receiving services from a vocational rehabilitation agency) had a 48% employment rate and $316 weekly earnings. Youth with ID who did not receive PSE had an average weekly income of $195.
Are you ready to go back to school?
If you are considering PSE, begin by searching for programs, and take a closer look at the schools’ Office of Disability Support Services. (Note that the name of the office may vary from campus to campus.) The role of the Office of Disability Support Services is to collaborate with and empower students with disabilities by providing support services and programs that enable equal access to education. Note that some students with significant learning disabilities and other conditions, such as mental retardation, may require significant planning and collaboration to achieve their postsecondary goals.
Resources for Accredited Online Colleges
Direct link to valuable information around students with disabilities finding a college that fits their specific needs. Accredited Online Colleges is an informative resource for students which assists in finding an accredited college which can be vital in ensuring a quality education for all students.
Has answers to frequently asked questions about PSE.
The National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
Features a special section devoted to PSE.
The Heath Resource Center
Is an online PSE clearinghouse for individuals with disabilities.
U.S. Department of Education
Features an online booklet about post-secondary rights and responsibilities for students with disabilities.
A website devoted to the topic of PSE for students with intellectual disabilities and their families. Features a searchable database of PSE options and programs. Also offers helpful tips about college. As of July 2009 there were 155 PSE programs across 38 states for students with intellectual disabilities (13 are in MA), most of whom support students who are enrolled in both high school and college (called dual enrollment). However, adults with intellectual disabilities who have already graduated/exited from high school may also attend at some of these institutions. Learn more at the website.