Horizons School began in 1991 as a non-degree post-secondary program for young adults with learning disabilities. Now in our 32nd year, we are licensed as a private school by the Alabama Community College System and proudly celebrate our graduates!
The Horizons student learning goal is that each individual will master usable skills necessary for gainful employment and community living. We will achieve this through Prevocational Training, Vocational Preparation, and Dual Enrollment for College Success. Students select either a Career Preparation or College Preparation Track. This first blog will focus on prevocational training outcomes as reported in the 2023 Survey of Horizons Graduates and Parents.
Prevocational Training is Fundamental to Future Job Success
Our learning program, Readiness for Employment and Disability Inclusion or READI, provides students with an engaging and relevant curriculum to earn paid or unpaid employment in their chosen workplace. Students investigate occupational areas of interest, and enhance basic literacy and social skills.
Students explore job titles and roles, required preparation, and projected employment for Career Clusters identified by the Department of Labor. Faculty promote positive work ethic and schedule job shadow opportunities enabling students to observe employee roles and responsibilities in the workplace. Students earn career-ready certificates developed by industry professionals.
Through classes and planned community experiences, students acquire necessary durable or “soft” skills for job success (e.g., time management, customer and coworker communication, following supervisor directions, self-care, personal appearance and safety). They develop basic skills for listening, speaking, problem-solving and critical thinking in the workplace.
Faculty and university collaborators prepare students for job interviews, develop career goals, and a portfolio. Students receive support to apply in person and online for positions, and to request accommodations, as needed. Faculty emphasize how individual performance leads to customer satisfaction and company profitability. Employers receive support, including disability awareness training and consultation, including task management and job coaching.
READI Makes a Difference for Young Adult Graduates
Horizons conducts semi-annual surveys of the most recent alumni and their family caregivers. The purpose is to confirm outcomes of critical content included in the READI learning program. During the spring of 2023, 31 alumni and 15 family caregivers responded to an online survey. The survey was composed of 31 items (28 objective and 3 completion). This first blog post will share selected results. Watch for later posts with additional results!
Eighty-two percent of respondents said the Horizons graduate is employed for wages! Twenty-two alumni work part-time and nine work full-time. One-third of alumni found their job using skills learned as a student; 27% received direct assistance from Horizons to secure a paid job. An additional graduate works as an unpaid intern or community volunteer, and three are seeking employment.
Nineteen alumni have worked in their current position for one year or longer, and 12 have worked for less than one year. Seventy-one percent are responsible for their own transportation to the job site by walking, using their own vehicle, riding public transit, Paratransit, Uber or Lyft. The majority (90%) reported feeling Satisfied or Very Satisfied with their current paid job.
Graduates and their family caregivers reported a variety of job titles: Restaurant key holder, Dining Room Host, Busser, Prep Cook, Dietary Aide, Food Server, Grocery Courtesy Clerk, Cart Attendant, Grocery Bagger, Receptionist, Administrative Assistant, Pet Sitter, Kennel Technician, Movie Extra, Dishwasher, Guest Services Worker, Healthcare Utility Worker, Sports and Recreation Guest Services, Sporting Event Promoter, Retail Team Member, Dressing Room Associate, Sales Associate, Retail Stocker, Warehouse Worker
One-third of respondents said the graduate completed a career certification course while attending Horizons School. Examples include Alabama-Jefferson County Food Handler Training, Adult CPR, AED and Basic First Aid, COVID-19 Prevention, Guest Services Gold, Certified Breakfast Attendant, Retail Industry Fundamentals, and Youth@Work: Talking Safety. Four alumni enrolled in a college program after Horizons graduation.
Survey respondents considered eight career-ready skills to launch Horizons students in the job market. Each skill was rated as Performed Independently or with only Minimal Assistance by one-third or more of our graduates:
- Determining occupational interests and preferences
- Learning the steps to reach my career goal
- Developing a professional resume
- Completing job shadows and a training internship
- Identifying current job opportunities
- Completing job applications
- Preparing for job interviews
- Following up after job interviews.
We are proud of alumni achievements! Survey data confirms the success of our READI Learning Program for Horizons students. Future blog posts will share additional results from the 2023 Survey of Horizons Graduates and Parents. For more information, contact Horizons School (205) 322-6606, https://horizonsschool.org