Career Development

Career development is a process in which all youth choose and prepare for careers that fit their interests, skills, and values through participating in the three phases of self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management. Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs) are an important tool many states use to facilitate career development activities. In fact, 37 states and the District of Columbia have implemented ILPs for some or all students and note positive results. ODEP has produced the following career development resources in partnership with the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth), Social Dynamics, Boston University, the University of Minnesota, and the Institute for Community Inclusion.

View general career development information and resources:

Other ILP Information and Resources

Inclusive Service

Volunteerism and work-based learning (both paid and voluntary) can provide critical preparation for all youth as they transition from school into the world of work. ODEP and the Corporation for National and Community Service have collaborated to create policy guidance and highlight resources to promote national service as an option for all youth, including youth with disabilities.

  • Policy Guidance Letter [ PDF | HTML ] - This letter explains the benefits of work-based learning and volunteerism, the link between service learning and competitive employment, and income exemptions for Social Security beneficiaries participating in AmeriCorps.
  • Use of Social Security Work Incentives to Promote Work-Based Learning in Youth Employment and Training Programs - This white paper provides an overview on the importance of work-based learning experiences and the current state of policy on the income exclusion for Social Security beneficiaries participating in AmeriCorps.
  • Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment (PDF) - This report discusses the link between service learning and achieving competitive employment.
  • Inclusive Service as a Pathway to Employment 25 Years after the Americans with Disabilities Act (PDF) - On July 29, 2015, the United States Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) issued a "Dear Colleague" letter to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its legacy of equal opportunity and inclusion. Two resources were highlighted. ODEP's Youth Technical Assistance Center, the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, released Fostering Inclusive Volunteering and Service Learning, a guide for youth service professionals and others interested in facilitating youth engagement in volunteer activities. It describes how youth benefit from inclusive volunteering, different types of volunteer opportunities, and ways to assist youth to prepare for, access, and learn from their experiences. The second resource, the Toolkit for AmeriCorps Alumni with Disabilities Transitioning to Employment, developed by CNCS is a collection of resources regarding pre-employment and employment issues for people with disabilities, special programs, government services, and mentorship and networking opportunities.


ODEP's apprenticeship initiative focused on increasing systems capacity to provide integrated inclusive apprenticeship training to youth and young adults with a full range of disabilities, including those with the most significant disabilities, and to utilize the increased flexibilities detailed in DOL's apprenticeship regulations, 29 CFR Part 29, issued in 2008.

Youth Supplemental Security Income Recipients

ODEP funded the Evaluation of Initiatives to Improve Adult Outcomes and Employment Opportunities for Young Recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to help identify where and how to best build on existing research and lessons from the field and to identify new and follow-up research questions and promising models or strategies that could be tested for assisting youth SSI recipients and those at risk of receiving SSI benefits with the transition to sustained, gainful employment.

Additional Resources