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Youth in Transition Toolkit:




Work plays a significant role in helping youth shape a successful career and a life of purpose and independence.

A job provides money for youth to buy and do the things they want. Paid work can also help youth learn new things and develop job skills while exploring their interests, creating friendships and networks, and building confidence. Help youth progress toward competitive integrated employment.

  • Awareness: Understand employment principles.
  • Exploration: Identify personal strengths, preferences, interests and needs within each employment topic.
  • Preparation: Practice skills, make decisions and get ready to enter into competitive integrated employment.
  • Implementation: Use work skills as independently as possible in competitive integrated employment.

Workplace readiness training

Hear what young people have to say about employment

Watch this 5 minute video and learn how these young people went about finding their jobs and why employment is an important part of living their best lives.



LEARN: Develop your knowledge

Learn how to support youth in thinking about employment.

Employment First means raising the expectation that all Minnesotans with disabilities can work, want to work, and can achieve competitive integrated employment. Each person is offered the opportunity to work and earn a competitive wage before being offered other services or supports.

By definition, competitive integrated employment:

  • May be full-time, part-time or self-employment (with or without supports)
  • Is in the competitive labor force, or on the payroll of a competitive business or industry
  • Pays at least minimum wage, but not less than the customary wage and level of benefits paid for the same or similar work performed by workers without a disability
What is Employment First?

It's important to encourage youth to think of employment as more than a job, but rather a lifelong process of career development that maximizes skills, interests, earning potential and satisfaction. In fact, youth who have paid work experience before age 18 are more likely to be employed as adults.

Work can help youth:

  • Experience meaningful community participation
  • Increase quality of life through physical and mental health benefits
  • Structure their time
  • Feel appreciated
  • Use and develop skills at an age when employers are more understanding
  • Get motivated to plan for the future (especially youth who struggle in school)

There are also additional benefits for youth to start work while still in school.   

  • If they get SSI, the Student Earned Income Exclusion lets them keep more than $2,000 a month and still receive their full SSI benefit.
  • Employers tend to have more patience with younger workers, who are expected to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.
  • They can earn spending money before they have to pay bills.

Career exploration

  • Self-awareness of strengths, interests, preferences, and needs
  • Occupations or career possibilities that match strengths, interests, preferences, and needs
  • Work-based learning experiences

Managing the job process

  • Job search strategies
  • Interview skills
  • Applying for work
  • How to advance at work
  • How to leave a job

Foundational skills

  • Job readiness
  • Work ethics
  • Hygiene
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills

Advocacy and supports in employment

  • Self-advocacy in the workplace
  • Disability disclosure
  • Accommodations
  • Work and benefits
  • Mentoring experiences
  • Leadership
  • Employment services and supports

Dive deeper into concepts related to employment. The comprehensive work toolkit developed for professionals will introduce you to steps you can take and tools you can use to help people with disabilities make informed choices about work and reach their work goals. 

Read the Hub's helpful section on work, developed for people with disabilities and their supporters. Making work part of your plan includes a youth and work page you can share with the youth you support.

Two people are sitting in front of a laptop. One person is talking, using their hands to emphasize. The other person is listening.

DO: Work with youth

Find curriculum, lessons, activities and other resources to help youth explore employment.

Project 10's employment checklist can help youth set learning goals.  

Complete the four activities in My Vault's work path to help youth assess their strengths, interests and resources, and then build a vision for what they want in a job. After each activity, discuss how to use their results throughout the process and how to advocate for what they want in a job.  

Minnesota Career Information System (MCIS) is an online career planning tool supported by the Minnesota Department of Education and used by 80 percent of Minnesota high schools. MCIS includes a curriculum section for educators. A paid subscription is required for use.

Career and education explorer from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development helps youth explore careers and find related education and training programs.

My next move is a career exploration tool designed for youth to learn about careers and match their interests to career options.

O*Net career exploration tools are self-directed exploration and assessment tools to help youth consider and plan for careers. Options include an interest profiler and a work importance locator.

CareerOne Stop is a comprehensive website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor to provide career profiles and assessments — including Get My Future, which is geared to high school youth.

Occupational outlook handbook is a labor market tool supported by the U.S. Department of Labor. The tool allows people to browse occupations by pay, growth, availability and field of degree.

Next: Career exploration »