Quest Inc. and The Abilities Connection are collaborating to offer a hands-on, performance-based vocational assessment for students with disabilities and other barriers in our community. The PAES lab will launch in July and be located at Clark State College’s main campus in Springfield, a continued expansion of Clark State’s partnership with The Abilities Connection.
Quest Inc. purchased PAES in the spring. PAES – Practical Assessment Exploration System – is a transition assessment of employment potential for students with disabilities or other barriers that may prevent them from obtaining employment after they transition out of high school. PAES is validated to predict employment potential 3-5 years in the future and can help to identify employment skills a student has or may need to develop to succeed in future employment.
The PAES lab is designed to mimic real workplace settings, with the instructors’ becoming supervisors and students becoming employees. Students will explore jobs in five areas such as business/marketing, service, production, construction/industrial, and computer technology.
The Abilities Connection was selected by Quest Inc. to manage and provide instruction for the lab. The Abilities Connection is an organization in Springfield that empowers people with disabilities and other barriers to reach their full potential through meaningful employment, training, and support.
“Shifting services and support from facility-based models to the community aligns perfectly with the PAES lab at Clark State,” said Scott Jones, Director of Community Connections and Employment at Quest Inc. “We’ve learned over the past two years that many individuals and families consider TAC to be their place of employment. But we also learned it’s not the TAC building that individuals and families are attached to – it’s the staff relationships they value and trust.”
In identifying potential site locations for the program, TAC knew that students could benefit significantly with exposure to a campus of higher education. Clark State housing the PAES lab is an expansion of Clark State’s growing partnership with The Abilities Connection. This spring, TAC relocated its Fresh Abilities restaurant to the Eagle’s Nest at Clark State where students receive the classroom portion of their training program through Clark State’s Workforce and Business Solutions.
“Clark State and TAC are two organizations with similar missions – ‘To empower diverse learners, including individuals with disabilities, through education and training,’” said Crystal Jones, vice president of marketing, diversity, and community impact at Clark State. “The PAES lab is yet another great program that fosters our missions. The lab further exhibits belonging while preparing students for employment and exposing them to the Clark State campus.”
Jones, who also serves on the Board of Directors for TAC, said the PAES lab is intentionally located in the Student Services department to ensure additional resources are available for those who need them.
“The PAES lab helps to bring our partnerships with Clark State and Quest Inc. full circle to strengthen opportunities available for people with disabilities and other barriers in our community,” said Jim Zahora, CEO of The Abilities Connection.
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