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Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs)

Since late 2001, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy funds the Institute for Educational Leadership's Center for Workforce Development (CWD) and several partners, including NYEC, to operate the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth).

NCWD/Youth strives to ensure that youth with disabilities are provided full access to high quality services in integrated settings in order to maximize their opportunities for employment and independent living. NCWD/Youth accomplishes this mission through working on state and local policy; strengthening the services provided to youth by organizations; and strengthening the skills of individuals who work with youth.

NYEC's primary role as a partner in NCWD/Y is leading the Youth Service Professional (YSP) Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) initiative.

To make the transition from school to adult life and the world of work, adolescents and young adults need guidance and encouragement from caring supportive adults. For most youth, YSPs (adults who work directly with youth) are the face of the workforce development system. NYEC and NCWD/Youth set out to identify the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that YSPs need to maximize their effectiveness in working with all youth, including youth with disabilities. A significant percentage of youth in the workforce system have identified and unidentified disabilities, so it is vital that that YSPs be prepared to work effectively with all youth.

NYEC and NCWD/Youth worked with a group of stakeholders from the youth development, workforce development, education, and disability fields around the nation to review research and practice to identify these KSAs. NCWD/Youth and NYEC then developed a variety of resources to help individuals and organizations use the KSAs to plan, promote, and implement professional development. With these resources, YSPs, youth organizations, and systems can ensure that the adults who work with youth build the critical competencies they need to maximize the effectiveness of their efforts. Research has shown that the professional development of staff leads to better practice with youth, improves program quality, and increases positive youth outcomes. Using the KSAs, agencies can focus professional development investments on the most important competencies.

NYEC and NCWD/Youth continue to develop new YSP KSA resources and help states, localities, and programs utilize the KSAs.

For information on the YSP KSAs and to access the resources, visit www.ncwd-youth.info/ksa. 

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