Upskill/Backfill Model of Career Pathways Advancement: The Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation Approach

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Current trends in vocational rehabilitation (VR) increasingly value career pathways and career advancement as important components for success. Simultaneously, employers and businesses have great needs for retaining and advancing incumbent workers in order to better meet their workforce demands. This article describes the Career Pathways Advancement Project (CPAP), the first state VR agency use of the upskill/backfill model for advancing former clients in specific career clusters in Nebraska VR by providing them access to additional training, certification, or specialized skills necessary to advance within that career sector. The model also provides access to entry-level jobs in the same businesses for current VR clients by “backfilling” the vacated positions left by the worker who is advancing. The upskill/backfill model appears to be an effective means for advancing former VR clients in their careers and providing substantial gains in income and employer-provided benefits. The model may require additional modifications in order to better serve new clients with backfill positions that were created by those who successfully advanced. Policy considerations for embedding this model in VR are addressed in light of evolving workplace dynamics and employer needs.

Community Engaged/Serving

Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series. //


Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling