Seeking to ensure access to career exploration activities for our region’s youth, JEVS’ complement of youth and young adult programs grew just a bit larger this past autumn with the introduction of JEVS’ Student Transition Services. The program, which provides vital career services to students with disabilities in Philadelphia, will allow our city’s young adults (up to age 21) the opportunity to explore individual career interests and passions while in school.
It’s something that is desperately needed, according to Sarah Hollister, JEVS Vice President of Youth and Gateway Programs.
“The need for these services is so great throughout Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey,” she said. “Too often, we see all students – and particularly those with disabilities – leave high school without a clear idea of their next steps. This initial investment in our young adults will ensure that high school and community college students have access to a full ecosystem of support.”
That ecosystem, according to Jamie Kelly, Associate Program Manager of Student Transition Services, will include group instruction, job shadowing, and paid internships that supplement the academic and social learning students are already receiving in schools.
“Right now, we’re going into classrooms and conducting group training – helping students learn work readiness skills, and conducting one-on-one assessments,” said Kelly. “We want to help them figure out what environments might be a match to their interests, skills and aptitudes – then we’ll mentor them, coach with soft skills and show through training that there are literally thousands of career possibilities they might want to pursue!”
Both Hollister and Kelly agree that this effort, while initially small, is designed to combat Philadelphia’s high unemployment rate for youth, and even higher rate for Philadelphia’s youth with disabilities.
“Employers today want experience and certifications – sometimes referred to as stackable credentials,” said Kelly.
“We want to prepare students and do the research with them so they know what they need to not only get the job they seek, but – more importantly – succeed in the workforce. This program helps our students, our region’s employers, and the region as a whole.”
According to Hollister, the intention is to scale the program.
“Right now, we’re working with students, parents and educators in three city high schools – with a fourth to come online in March -as well as Community College of Philadelphia,” she said. “We also received a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to do an enhanced career assessment process with 20 higher-need students within the program.”
The enthusiasm of program administrators is shared by the young adults in the program.
“I never expected this,” said Kelly. “Sometimes you expect a tough attitude from teenagers. It hasn’t been like that at all, and I’ve been thrilled to answer questions and clarify any anxieties about working that our students have – it’s rewarding to open minds and worlds to the many possibilities, and to the supports that exist for young people. We want them to know that they’re always connected – whether through JEVS or the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation or their school – and can find the services they need as they make their way in the world.”
JEVS Youth Services provides support and workforce experience for at-risk and opportunity youth in the Delaware Valley through a variety of programs, including PASS, E3 Power Center City, Philadelphia Independence Network, Project WOW and more.
Learn more about Student Transition Services on the web, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-854-1826 to speak with Jamie Kelly directly.