Career Development and Transition


Individuals with disabilities face many challenges as they transition from school to work. Although the graduation rate nationally has increased in recent years, individuals with disabilities still drop out of high school at about twice the rate of students without disabilities.  A recent national study on transition found that only 30% of individuals with disabilities who exited public school enrolled in post-secondary education, as compared with 41% of their peers without disabilities.  Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that only 1 in 5 individuals with disabilities are employed. Moreover, those who are employed disproportionately work in part-time positions.

Several pieces of federal legislation attempt to address these issues.

Perkins Act

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is authorized under The Perkins Act. The Department of Education administers the Perkins Act through the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE). Under the Act, federal funds are made available to help provide vocational-technical education programs and services to youth and adults. The majority of funds appropriated under the Perkins Act are awarded as grants to state education agencies. Programs include competency-based applied learning, which contributes to an individual's academic knowledge, higher-order reasoning, problem solving skills, and the occupational-specific skills necessary for economic independence as a productive and contributing member of society.

Want to know more about CEC’s Position on Perkins? Check out our Perkins Policy Update.

Workforce Investment Act

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) took effect on July 1, 2000, and created a universal local “One-Stop” delivery system where multiple employment services, job training, and education programs are integrated and accessible to all job seekers. WIA is designed to meet local industry demands in communities across the county, and it mandates the participation of partner agencies that provide job training services.

Supporting youth and adults with disabilities is a core purpose of WIA. To accomplish this goal, any efforts to update this legislation must address both the critical transition of students with disabilities from secondary to post-secondary education, and their meaningful participation in the workforce. Addressing these needs early on will create a solid foundation for building lifelong skills, finding and maintaining employment.

Want to know more about CEC’s Position on WIA? See our CEC Issue Brief: Workforce Investment Act.