Ensuring that the Transitional Job is a Developmental Experience

Warland, C.
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Heartland Alliance
National Transitional Jobs Network
Publication Year
Resource Type
Number of Pages

This brief describes the four key elements that experts in the field have identified as necessary for transitional jobs to be a developmental experience for participants. The four key elements are:

  • Opportunities for social and peer support
  • Strong communication and feedback
  • Transitional work that represents real experience
  • Flexibility and allowing for mistakes

Each element is discussed with examples of how it is accomplished successfully. Transitional jobs program structures vary, using scattered employment sites, work crews, or in-house placements. Program differences are noted, citing the pros and cons of each type. Examples of successful transitional job programs are included. Of particular interest is that in-house placement is a setting conducive to offering contextualized instruction to support development of basic skills using work content. The conclusion notes the importance of supportive services to address and manage possible barriers to employment.

What the experts say

The resource is valuable in transforming expectations about subsidized employment from only providing client economic support during workforce training to becoming part of the training process. The theoretical base is stated in citing the work of Prochaska in connection with the Roca program description in Boston. Individual transformation involves failure as well as success; hence, supervision and feedback are essential. Since transformation is individual, and individuals move at their own pace, flexibility is required in the length of time for subsidized employment, types of experiences, and frequency of feedback.

Three primary strategies were highlighted in this brief:

  • Scattered employment sites where individuals go to work in a variety of businesses – one or two workers per site. The employer is responsible for training, supervision and feedback.
  • Work Crews sites where a crew of 5-7 people work on a program in a park or in some sort of maintenance or janitorial project. This structure supports opportunities for group learning.
  • In-house placements where participants work for the Transitional Jobs agency.

The program examples, set aside in blue, are very helpful in understanding how the principles of Transitional Jobs can be implemented. Research documentation is provided in the endnotes. Aside from a couple of typos in the document, the resource is extremely helpful in designing transitional work experiences as part of the workforce development program.

This paper is relevant to adult education providers because it is the job of adult education providers to prepare adults for successful transition to careers. Adult education programs should learn about the availability of these types of programs in their communities and form partnerships. If programs like these are not available, lessons can be learned from the structure of these programs and integrated into curriculum