Our slate of awesome events for Disability Employment Awareness Month may have drawn to a close recently, but as we all know, the work to make Florida a national leader in disability-inclusive employment doesn't end at midnight on November 1. In fact, November happens to be National Apprenticeship Month, and hands-on work training experiences such as apprenticeships are a great way for individuals with disabilities to acquire the skills they need to land a job or advance in their chosen career field.
While apprenticeships aren't universal across all career pathways, VR's On-the-Job Training (OJT) program offers a similar structure in which an employer can mentor an individual with a disability in the work environment. As we know, the VR client interacts regularly with other staff, is paid no less than minimum wage, and continues (along with the employer) to receive support from a service provider or VR staffer.
During the outstanding panel discussion at our DEAM kickoff celebration in Tampa, senior employment specialist and job developer Steve Nyilas of The Grow Group raised a great point about how the OJT program allows providers to maintain open and active lines of communication with management and staff of businesses: "It allows the client to get used to the work environment. They get to know the staff, the management, the processes, and the transition from the training--which I call a 'working interview'--to employment is just incredible."
Steve further advised employers who consider hiring individuals with disabilities to treat those individuals just like candidates who do not have a disability--look at what the client's strengths are and what they can bring to the table with perhaps some extra training time, job coaching, or other easily incorporated accommodations.
How does your organization approach the process of building relationships between potential employers and the people you serve? We invite you to share your best practices advice for businesses with us.
Let's work together as the holiday season approaches to end 2023 on a high note.
Vice President, External Engagement