By Gabrielle Traynham
Almost everyone knows what it’s like to start a new job and feel totally out of sorts. You might need someone to teach you how to log into the computer system, how to access company files or even how to find the bathroom.
Sometimes people with special needs can face even greater challenges. The 2015 unemployment rate of working-age people (21 to 64) with disabilities in the US was 64.8 percent, according to the Cornell University Employment and Disability Institute.
The staff at the JCS Career Center is working to change those statistics through a new program that offers pre-employment training for transitioning youth. The idea is to offer clients specialized training to work in specific areas; the first being the hospitality field. “Hotel JCS” offered a day of real life hands-on training. Clients learned to register guests by phone through online data entry, perform housekeeping duties like cleaning and making beds, and deliver room service. At the end of the day, the clients felt a huge sense of accomplishment thanks to all the new skills they had learned.
In the coming months, the JCS Career Center will host more mock training workshops ranging from administrative work to car washing. These workshops will be particularly helpful for the clients who come into the program without any previous work or volunteer experience. The training serves a dual purpose: clients learn new skills and JCS staffers get the chance to assess client capabilities.
As a JCS Supported Employment Specialist, my goal is to give our clients who have special needs the skills to gain employment and improve their quality of life. Through education and social integration, it is my hope that, as a society, we can be more accepting and accommodating of individuals with disabilities.
Gabrielle Traynham is a Supported Employment Specialist for the JCS Career Center.
The JCS Career Center offers comprehensive employment assistance that helps job seekers of all abilities and skill levels find and maintain employment. Services include career coaching, career assessments, resume and cover letter services, interview preparation, job readiness training, vocational rehabilitation and job placement assistance.