Social media is important for reaching teens and young adults, but developing a strong social media presence is labor intensive. How then does an agency, already strapped for cash, allocate funds towards social media? This post explores the possibility of using Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Pre-Employment Transition Services (PreETS) dollars to develop and sustain a social media outreach strategy.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) represents the latest revisions to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Under this new law, Section 110 requires that state VR agencies reserve 15% of their allotted funds for the provision of PreETS. Funds can be used to support five required activities: job-exploration counseling, work-based learning experiences, counseling about post-secondary education opportunities, workplace readiness training, and instruction in self-advocacy. Remaining funds can be used to support an additional nine activities including:
Section 113(c)(2) developing and improving strategies for individuals with … disabilities to live independently, participate in post-secondary education experiences, and obtain and retain competitive integrated employment; and
Section 113 (c)(9) disseminating information and strategies to improve the transition to post-secondary activities of individuals who are members of traditionally unserved populations.
These authorized activities may be justification for supporting a social media position dedicated to developing and maintaining a lively and engaging VR presence. Millennials, and those coming after, use social media to communicate and find information. As highlighted in an earlier post, youth aged 16-24 spend approximately 200 minutes per day on mobile devices accessing a variety of social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (Statista, 2016). Given current use rates, social media might be the best way to engage with and improve transition outcomes among youth with disabilities. For instance, VR agencies might:
- Use Twitter and Facebook posts to direct transition-age youth to career exploration websites, career fairs, or volunteer opportunities.
- Post short video clips or slideshows about appropriate work attire, directions for filling out an application, university disability student services, or how to develop an entry-level resume.
- Use Instagram to post pictures or graphics that showcase different kinds of jobs and young people working.
- Blog about online job search strategies or upcoming local opportunities about PreETS activities.
The applications are endless, but the message is clear. If you want to reach teens, you need to provide information where they are and in formats they appreciate. A justifiable WIOA expense in my opinion.
Statista (2016). Most popular social networks of teenagers in the United States from Fall 2012 to Spring 2016. Retrieved from http://www.statista.com/statistics/250172/social-network-usage-of-us-teens-and-young-adults/