Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS) training is a career focused approach that provides practitioners with tools to assist individuals returning to society from a time of incarceration. The OWDS curriculum was developed through a partnership between the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) and the National Career Development Association (NCDA). OWDS training focuses on the development of a meaningful career for formerly incarcerated individuals.
OWDS training is a comprehensive, 180-hour curriculum that is delivered in 3 one-week segments occurring over a four month time frame. There are 120 hours of classroom work and an additional 68 hours of homework and self-study that is required between the classroom sessions.
Participants have homework each evening, daily quizzes, participate in numerous classroom activities and take a comprehensive final exam. Additionally there are three extensive homework assignments which includes recording a 30 minute video. These assignments are scored by an OWDS Certified Instructor. An overall grade of 70% or greater must be obtained for a participant to receive certification.
The OWDS program includes three essential elements:
- Creation of partnerships between the criminal justice system, community organizations, and a broad array of governmental agencies
- Training in 11 competency-based skills that meet the requirements for certification through the NIC (OWDS Certification) and the NCDA (Certified Career Services Provider, CCSP).
- Development of comprehensive action plans by training participants for implementation into their respective agencies and jurisdictions.
Indiana has certified 424 individuals since program inception in 2011.