The External Training Option (ETO) Program, an accredited training program through the Council on Occupational Education (COE), prepares its students to enter into direct employment or career pathways by providing vocational training or retraining in a community-based setting.  ETO students receive training at selected business and industry sites, under the direction of carefully pre-screened, cooperating trainers, in a realistic work environment and in over 100 possible occupational areas.   Student progress is closely monitored by ETO instructional staff utilizing a competency-based curriculum and method of evaluation.


Although many students in ETO receive training within the "local" community surrounding WWRC and reside at the Center, a "statewide" program is also available in select areas of the Commonwealth for students who elect to stay in their home area for training but need the structure and support of the ETO Program. ETO students residing at WWRC have access to the many comprehensive support services available at the Center, while those residing in their home community maintain support services through their DARS/DRS Rehabilitation Counselor while participating in their occupational skills training program.  Individuals who demonstrate maturity, a positive attitude, and appropriate interpersonal skills, in addition to the necessary vocational aptitude are eligible for training through the "statewide" ETO program.  Students participating in the "statewide" ETO program must have reliable transportation to be accepted. 


The ETO Program operates as a training program in strict compliance with the United States Departments of Education and Labor laws and regulatory guidance relative to community-based training of youth and young adults with disabilities.   Each participating employer signs a written agreement for each ETO student placed, specifying that no employment relationship exists and that:


  • no student may receive a wage or otherwise be compensated for work performed as a part of his/her instructional program anytime by anyone or any business entity;
  • all training is for the benefit of the student;
  • students will not displace regular employees, but may train under the Business/Cooperating Trainer employee's close observation; and,
  • any employer who participates in a student's training should derive no immediate advantage from the activities of the student and, on occasion, the employer's operations may actually be impeded.


In the event that a participating business is a member of a Union, ETO students shall be excused from attending their training site during a strike.    If the strike is for an extended period of time, an alternative ETO site will be identified.  

 While a student is enrolled in the ETO Program, health and accident insurance is covered by WWRC during training hours. 


Criteria for ETO Cooperating Businesses

WWRC ETO Instructors are responsible for establishing and maintaining effective relationships with multiple and diverse cooperating businesses across industry sectors for current and future placements.  ETO students are matched with relevant businesses based on requirements of the industry, combined with student training goals and anticipate level of supports needed.  Cooperating businesses, serving as trainers, must be willing to perform the following functions:

  • to provide adequate and pertinent work experience activities in accordance with the training area competency task list;
  • to properly supervise the student in the same general manner as with other employees, except where conditions require justifiable exceptions as required by disability;
  • to provide regular reports of progress on each student to the ETO Instructor during the training period;
  • to assist the student in gaining the skills necessary for entry level employment in this industry with the identified vocational objective;
  • as part of an orientation to the specific business site as well as the industry in general, ensure all students know and understand all fire, safety and health rules as well as:
    • Proper use of tools and equipment
    • Proper handling of all chemical and hazardous materials and waste
    • Proper use of universal precautions in compliance with OSHA guidelines
    • Proper response to fire, explosion or similar emergencies
    • Use of personal protective equipment required for training duties (such as: glasses, gloves, safety shoes, aprons, etc.)


ETO Cooperating Business are expected to sign a Written Agreement documenting their understanding of these expectations and their willingness to serve in this training capacity.    The Written Agreement also specifies expectations for WWRC and the assigned ETO Instructor and the participating student.    The ORIGINAL signed Written Agreement is maintained in the student's official record in the Records Management Services Department, with copies to the participating business and the ETO working file.


In compliance with privacy laws and regulations, ETO Cooperating Businesses are only provided information about the participating student on a "need to know" basis.   For example, it is acceptable to provide information on a participating student's preferred learning style and/or reasonable accommodations required to perform the training, but it is not acceptable to identify the person's disability or medications that the person may be taking.  Assistive technologies and other reasonable accommodations that may be needed should be identified and discussed at the onset of a training program.   If the Cooperating Business identifies additional strategies that are successful, these are to be communicated to the designated ETO Instructor to assist in transition to the workplace.  Generally, Cooperating Businesses are encouraged to use a multi-sensory approach in teaching and evaluating skills:  demonstrations, "hands" on experiential activities, and use of contextual references.   


Guidelines for Cooperating Business Partners: WWRC Students in Training


Student Services


Referrals to the ETO Program must be processed through the WWRC Admissions Office per routine business processes.   ETO Instructors are available for consultation, as needed, to discuss possible training pathways based on individual referral needs and rehabilitation goals.   As part of the Admissions process, ETO Instructors may contact the sponsor to initiate an Interview with the student to discuss the requested training area and to gain additional information.  The ETO Instructor may subsequently contact the sponsor to discuss details and potential site options. 


ETO applicants must meet Center admissions criteria.  Participants in the ETO Statewide Program must have adequate housing and transportation to be considered.  All ETO applicants must also: 


  • Exhibit basic health standards required to perform training duties as part of his/her evaluation and admission to the Center.
  • Possess the necessary aptitude, skills, and abilities to learn and perform the required tasks of the requested ETO training area. Results of current educational and vocational evaluations will be utilized in helping to make this determination. If none are available, the ETO staff interviewing the student may request an evaluation or other pertinent information prior to a recommendation to accept the student for ETO.  The required competencies for the specific training area are matched with the current Vocational Evaluation report and recommendations by the Vocational Evaluation Department evaluator, counselor, sponsor, and other pertinent professionals to determine feasibility.  Where there is a question about the student's interests, skills, and/or abilities, a recommendation may be made for further assessment of these areas.  This provides opportunity for further evaluation of the client's potential for success before recommending full enrollment.
  • Demonstrate the appropriate maturity, personal responsibility, and inter-personal skills necessary to work effectively with others. This may be determined by previous successful work and school experience, psychological test results, vocational evaluation reports, through a personal interview with ETO staff, and the training site cooperating trainer.
  • Possess the physical capabilities required to perform the training duties for their identified vocational objective. Recommendations from Vocational Evaluation and current medical reports are typically utilized in making this determination. 
  •  Demonstrate a positive attitude, and a desire to learn and work hard, as expressed in a personal interview with an ETO staff and business site coordinator.

Acceptance to the ETO Program is contingent on the identification of an appropriate community-based training site.   Once a training site is identified, the assigned ETO Instructor collaborates with the Cooperating Business Trainer to develop and/or modify an existing Vocational Skills Record specific to the identified training goal.    The Vocational Skills Record identifies critical competencies that must be mastered for successful completion of the program.   The assigned ETO Instructor and Cooperating Business Trainer mutually establish six-week benchmarks and review them regularly with the student to ensure mastery of skills in a timely manner.  Benchmarks may be different for the same curriculum across training sites and cooperating trainers, allowing for variance in business operations and ETO Cooperating Trainer workstyles.  Currently used ETO Vocational Skills Records are available for review with the ETO Occupational Advisory Committee

Students participating in the local ETO Program are provided transportation to/from the training site through the WWRC Transportation Department.    Some students may be able to use BRITE public transportation, dependent on the location of the ETO site; this is encouraged, where relevant and feasible, to increase the student's level of independence.   The student's WWRC Rehabilitation Counselor may request DRS sponsorship for mileage reimbursement if the student has his/her own vehicle on campus.  WWRC provides a bag lunch for all ETO students in residence. 


ETO Instructors are expected to stay in contact with Cooperating Businesses through routine phone calls as well as (un)announced site visits.   ETO Instructors touch base with students each morning before they leave for training sites and are available when they return.  Training is five days/week, 6.25 hours/day.  While this type of situation is the exception and not the norm, if a particular training site requires weekend hours, the ETO student may take time off during the week as part of an adjusted schedule. 


For ETO students in the "Statewide" program, ETO Instructors are expected to make routine telephone or email contact with the ETO Cooperating Trainer.  Training site visitation is typically made on a bi-monthly basis, at minimum.  Students and Cooperating Trainers are encouraged to contact the assigned ETO Instructor should a problem or question arise or if a more frequent visitation is needed for a period of time.   The assigned ETO Instructor is expected to contact the WWRC Rehabilitation Counselor if a team meeting or follow-up with the DARS/DRS Rehabilitation Counselor is needed.


ETO Instructors are expected to maintain a record of all site visits and contacts with participating students and cooperating trainers. 


The informal ETO Program Notes will be kept electronically in the ETO Progress Review folder on the WWRC shared computer drive (G: Drive).  Each instructor will maintain a folder identified by the instructor's name.  Within that folder each student will have a folder identified by their name.  Within each student's folder there will be a document titled Student Name PN where Program Notes will be kept.  These notes will be updated to show ETO instructor check in/observations at least every two weeks.


The ETO Program follows all other standard departmental operating procedures for new student orientation, attendance, student leave, making satisfactory academic progress, transfer of programs, inclement weather, graduation, placement, grievances, and obtaining transcripts. 

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