Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)


The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) is the primary funding source and administrator of the public Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services programs in the United States.  In 2014 the WIOA set Montana’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services program and the rest of our nation’s public vocational rehabilitation agencies on a new path. 

Major changes/initiatives under the WIOA regarding Pre-ETS:

  • New Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) for students
  • Pre-ETS to be provided in an educational setting
  • Pre-ETS can be provided to groups
  • Competitive/Integrated work
  • Limitation in the use of sub-minimum wages

In addition to the new initiatives and changes within WIOA, it also requires VRBS to reserve 15% of service dollars for the purchase of Pre-ETS through case services and with schools.  In order to accomplish this task VRBS has chosen to utilize three service strategies.  The first is the traditional case services that VRBS has provided to individuals with disabilities.  In conjunction with case services the second is making funds available to school districts to build and enhance transition services in their schools. The third strategy is funding for special projects such as the Montana Youth Leadership Forum, Montana Youth Transitions, Movin’ On and an e-Mentoring program.  These are independent programs that assist Montana students with preparing for college, life and careers.

What are Pre-ETS?

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act recommended that VRBS serve high school youth with disabilities much earlier than before with a new set of services called Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS).  Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of Pre-ETS is its collaboration between high schools and VRBS.  The WIOA wants schools and VRBS to work together to deliver Pre-ETS within the educational setting.  The change is relatively radical for VRBS because our model of service is one based on serving individuals through a vocational plan. VRBS still delivers those case services, but we now emphasize the delivery of Pre-ETS in the school setting.  The case services work in conjunction with the school’s transition services and are based on individual need.  In fact, high school students with disabilities do not have to be VRBS clients.  Pre-ETS are open to all students with disabilities, even those who have no intention of applying to VRBS.  Pre-Employment Transition Services are available to student with disabilities ages 14-21 who are in high school, college, or another recognized education program.

With this in mind any paid work opportunities for students must be in a competitive and integrated setting. Internships, unpaid work experiences, job shadowing and volunteer experiences must also be in an integrated setting.

Description of the 5 Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS):

  • Job Exploration Counseling - explore the world of work, explore interests and abilities, work with a job mentor, shadow a job or career, investigate careers, etc.

    Examples for schools: career choice curriculum, mentoring programs, Discovery process, guest speakers, PEP Talk courses, teacher resources (texts, assessments, work books), attendance at career fairs and more.
  • Work-based learning experiences get valuable work experience through paid or unpaid work, volunteer, complete an internship or begin the steps of an apprenticeship.

    Examples for schools:  Wages paid to students for work experiences, internship projects, staff time for job coaching, in-school work experiences, transportation to and from work sites, curriculum costs, etc.
  • Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in post-secondary education (college, college of technology, trade education, professional certification, etc) - for those students seeking further education after high school, this may include investigating career paths, referrals to college resources, campus visits among other activities.

    Examples for schools:  program fees for the Movin’ On program at the University of Montana, transportation costs to attend career fairs, guest speakers from the University System, staff time to assist students with college related paperwork, STEM related curriculum, participation in e-Mentoring through the Montana Center and more.
  • Work Place Readiness - these are services to help you get ready for the challenges of work.  This may include training in soft skills, customer service, work place communication as well as peer mentoring, independent living skills, accessing transportation and self-advocacy.

    Examples for schools: soft skills curriculum or courses, work readiness teaching materials, peer mentoring program, soft skills classes through third parties, local employer panels, bus/transportation training, etc.
  • Instruction in Self Advocacy Live the life you want. These are services to help you understand more about yourself and how to interact with the world.

    Examples for schools: courses taught at an Independent Living Center, peer mentoring, self-advocacy, attendance at the Montana Youth Leadership Forum or Montana Youth Transitions Conference, resources at PLUK, SSI Benefits counseling, financial literacy courses,  peer or self-advocacy training materials, staff time for coordinating classes, curriculum purchase and other training opportunities.

Competitive/Integrated Employment

VRBS presumes that all individuals with disabilities are capable of competitive and integrated employment. 

Competitive integrated employment is defined as work paid at the greater of minimum or prevailing wages with commensurate benefits occurring in a typical work setting where the employee with a disability interacts or has the opportunity to interact continuously with co-workers without disabilities, and has an opportunity for advancement and job mobility.

Limitations on the use of Subminimum Wages

Section 511 of the WIOA restricts the use of subminimum wages for individuals with disabilities.  Subminimum wages are paid in sheltered workshops or on sheltered crew types of employment.  Under the new law efforts must be made to allow a person to experience competitive/integrated employment and Pre-Employment Transition Services before a referral to sheltered employment or crew types of work is made. 

For more information contact:

Tammy Hogan, CRC Youth Services Specialist,
Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services
111 North Last Chance Gulch, Suite 4C
PO Box 4210
Helena, MT 59604-4210
1 (877) 296-1197 (toll-free consumer line)
(406) 444-2590 (voice/TTY)
(406) 444-3632 (fax)