Skip to main content

Adult Education Partnerships with Career One Stops

I recently facilitated the LINCS Learning to Achieve Workforce Preparation Strategies training at a regional adult education conference. Since it was a double session, we had a good amount of time to discuss how participants are able to help prepare their students (especially those with learning disabilities) for the world of work. We also had a great discussion during which participants shared their community's model of partnerships to support their Career One Stops. Many participants said that their adult ed programs work closely with other organizations in their community to connect their students with workforce preparedness services. They all said that relationship building and cultivating is a key factor in the success of these partnerships. The programs that are able to participate in partner meetings and events know the "players" in their community who can really help their students. 

One program makes a special effort to transition students to partner programs by accompanying them to onsite orientations and initial appointments at partner organizations so the students are comfortable and confident in accessing these services. The program builds in paid time for staff to make these trips. They also organize group field trips to local community colleges and other relevant organizations.

Another adult education program is located in the same facility as the local Career One Stop and other related partner organizations. In this case, the typical silos are totally broken down and the staff of each partner organization know each other and work closely with each other to provide seamless services to the adult education students in their communities.

What other successful models are there? Please share how your program works with your community partners and Career One Stop Centers to help your students, especially those with disabilities, access these important work-related services?


Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Kathy -

It's great to hear about these programs that have actively taken the extra steps to connect students with work-related services.  I worked as a vocational evaluator for a state's Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services for a number of years, and traveled to offices around the state.   In some cases, these offices were co-located in buildings with One-Stop Centers.  It surprised me in many cases, even when these offices were neighbors, the clients I worked with were not aware of the One-Stop Centers, or how they worked.  It took making a visit to the One-Stop a part of their plan for employment to get these clients connected to the services provided by One-Stop Centers.   This involved working with clients to understand the differences between One-Stops and VR, and reducing barriers that kept them from accessing services from both agencies. 

I mention this because I think that sometimes we - as professionals - assume that proximity to services equals access to those services.  However, if the individuals we're working with don't have guidance to help make these connections, they can be easily overlooked, or lost in the mix.  Making these connections explicit for our learners is another step in the process, but it can make a world of difference in whether they benefit from these services, or not.

I'd be happy to highlight more programs that are going the extra mile, and encourage members to share their models for making these connections.

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways and Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator    

Kathy St. John's picture

Thanks for your observations and insights, Mike. What you've said is so true. Many of us just assume our students have knowledge they don't have and sometimes don't realize that even when they do have knowledge that they may not know how to apply that knowledge to real life situations. Those students really do need that explicit guidance to access information and services. 

Your point about differentiating between One-Stop Centers and Vocational Rehab services is key. I think many adult ed teachers and administrators aren't aware of the differences between these agencies so it's not surprising that most students don't either.

Since you have excellent experience in this area, can you share with us what those differences are or point people to where they could learn more about the differences?

Could you also give us some tips on how to reduce barriers that prevent students from accessing the services of both types of agency?

Many thanks!


Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Kathy -

Thanks for your questions.  I'm happy to share a little more about One-Stop Centers and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).  Click on the hyperlinks of each program to learn more about both.  In general, both One-Stops and VR are federally-sponsored programs.  Career One-Stop Centers are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.  VR is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.  Both programs are in all 50 states.  

The Career One-Stop Centers' mission is " To deliver integrated, easy-to-understand workforce information that helps job seekers, students, workers, workforce intermediaries, and employers develop their capacity and make sound economic decisions in the new economy".  These services are open to individuals regardless of ability level.

VR's mission is to "provide training services such as vocational training and tuition assistance; career services such as vocational rehabilitation counseling and job search assistance; and other services such as the provision of rehabilitation technology to individuals with disabilities".  These services are open only to individuals with documented disabilities.

To answer your question about reducing barriers for learners in accessing One-Stop Centers and VR services, I believe it begins with breaking down our silos.  We can begin that process by working to build relationships with local workforce development partners and VR offices.  You can connect with your local One-Stop Center and VR offices using these hyperlinks.

We ALL need to learn more about these programs, and support learners in accessing services that help them connect to meaningful and fair employment. 


Mike Cruse



Kathy St. John's picture

Thank you for this concise and helpful information, Mike. I know these partnerships come in all shapes and sizes because each community and its agencies and programs are unique. I'm eager to hear about successful models in the communities of our members. Also, if anyone has some challenges in this area, we're here to help brainstorm and problem solve creative solutions!

Michael Cruse's picture

I agree, Kathy, I'm hoping to hear about successful models from our members' work in their communities.  Workforce GPS recently released a WIOA Title I Data Snapshot as an interactive infographic, which includes WIOA Title I program data on the total number of participants in workforce services identified as having a disability, and the percentage of individuals served by disability type.  WIOA Title I programs (Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth) are administered by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (ETA). 

The link to this infographic is best viewed under a Chrome web browser.  Should you need to enlarge the infographic on your screen, click on the deskstop screen icon under the three dots found on upper right hand corner.  To navigate within the section titled Individuals with Disabilities, just click on each of the three WIOA Title I tabs for an interactive experience to gauge the percentage breakdown of the identified disability types served across programs. 

By illustrating the latest WIOA data, ETA highlights a significant targeted population of customers with disabilities receiving career services through over 2,300 American Job Centers.  Comments about how your learners have accessed these services, or questions about how to get them connected, are welcome!
Mike Cruse
Kathy St. John's picture

Wow! This looks like a great resource! Thanks for sharing it, Mike!