District Work Experience Program

District Work Experience Program Seeks Employer Support
Posted on 04/22/2019
Grounded Cafe student workersThe Green Bay Area Public School District Work Experience Program aims to increase and improve job opportunities for students with disabilities. “How often do we see someone with a disability in the community working? It is still too rare and we are trying to increase that,” said Wanda Bronstad, a Work Experience Coordinator in the district. To reach this goal, the program is introducing a new employer-focused model with hopes of more community partnerships and support in the future. 

This past January, the District hosted an event encouraging the community, students, and parents to discuss how to employ ALL people, including those with disabilities. The event was also used to discuss the new work experience model titled Partners With Business. In the past, the program was used to help students with disabilities find work with the support of the Work Experience program. Thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (WI-BPDD), the program is moving towards employer support. “We are handing the baton over much sooner than we have in the past,” Bronstad says of the new model. 

In the new model, students go through the hiring process, which includes experiencing the application process, interview, and orientation. The Work Experience Program is used as an aid or intervention for students throughout the process. The Work Experience Program will also work with employers to identify necessary accommodations for workers with disabilities on the job, and how the students can meet their workforce needs and diversify their business. 

Along with the new model, the Work Experience Program hopes to expand into new fields for the students to explore. Currently, the program partners mostly with businesses with entry-level positions in areas such as retail and food service. However, there are hopes to increase involvement in other career clusters. “If we can find a way to tap into our students’ skills and into the labor market to see what is out there beyond entry-level positions...that is what will make students in our program more successful and happier in the long run,” Bronstad said. 

The program is also looking to find ways for students to start their career exploration earlier in life, including more job shadowing opportunities for students to find what really interests them. The goal is to help students look for a job before they leave high school.

Overall, the new model seeks to strengthen the relationship between the student and the employer. While learning on the job, the employer and student can work together to identify accommodations that may increase success for both. This will allow the students to have more hands-on experiences with the employer and natural supports, which could lead to a permanent job after graduation. With the new model in place, the program turns to the community for support in expanding work experiences and offering the students more opportunities.  

Contact one of our high school Work Experience Coordinators for more information about the program and how to get involved:
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