November 2023

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Check Out the Highlights from Disability Employment Awareness Month 2023

If you're a regular reader or follow us on social media, you know we had an action-packed and incredibly rewarding Disability Employment Awareness Month! Our new 2023 DEAM highlights page gives you the opportunity to catch up on our activities. Visit the page for:

- Photos from our kickoff event in Tampa and DEAM celebration at Monin, Inc.'s headquarters in Clearwater;

- A link to The Able Trust Board of Directors Treasurer Doug Hilliard's op-ed on DEAM which appeared in the Orlando Sentinel;

- Instructions on how to view or re-watch any of the offerings in our Webinar Wednesday series;

- and so much more!

Review the Highlights

Tampa EDGE Training with Bill Santos Provides Key Insights

Last month, we welcomed a group of Tampa-area service providers to a special training session on the University of South Florida campus. EMP-Oakville President and CEO Bill Santos presented the EDGE Training model focused on relationship building and job development skills. We want to thank Bill for sharing his strategies and techniques with the group, as well as thank all the providers who took part in this great two-day experience!

Research Identifies Florida's Fastest-Growing Employment Sectors

Our recently released study Industry Analysis and Pathways to Career Success for Persons with Disabilities identified fast-growing industries in Florida and their future workforce needs.

Those industries showing the most rapid growth (see partial table below) may experience greater difficulty in finding and retaining talented workers. Florida's pool of job seekers with disabilities is an underutilized source of talent and these growing industries would benefit by expanding their recruitment efforts.

Visit our Research page to download the full report and learn more.

Read the Pathways Report

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How do You Build Relationships with Employers?

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.

Joey D'Souza

Vice President, External Engagement

What We're Reading

Tallahassee Chamber to launch program on skills-based hiring

The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce is creating a 12-week workshop designed to help businesses find and keep employees they previously may not have considered by shifting from traditional to skills-based hiring processes. This new approach to addressing the ongoing worker shortage may prove beneficial to individuals with disabilities and other hidden talent groups.

Read More and Listen Here - WFSU

Sneak Peek: Project Venture Finals Set for April 2024

We have begun preparations for the 2023-24 Project Venture competition for Florida High School High Tech students. This year's competition will be held in Jacksonville on April 9th. We're so excited to see the creative business ideas these students develop!

Click the video below to watch highlights from Project Venture 2022-23.

Learn More



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The Able Trust, also known as the Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation, is a 501(c)(3) public charity established by the Florida Legislature in 1990 as a direct support organization for the 

Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Its mission is to be a key leader in providing

Floridians with disabilities opportunities for successful employment.

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