In researching the development of the Skills Center, we toured several vocational training facilities. We found that many programs accept a limited number of people with diagnosed disabilities. However, applicants are required to academically test into the program, and only the highest functioning were getting in.
We also spoke to our local school districts and asked what is needed and what is missing in regard to vocational training for people with disabilities. They responded that any individual who has a behavioral issue is not allowed to participate, even if they’ve been academically accepted. For those who aren’t accepted into vocational training programs, field trip-style work experiences are provided; however, there are no fully developed programs with assessment documentation or proven results of sustained employment. Teachers fear that the supports and services after graduation are even scarcer.
We also surveyed individuals** (both youth and adults with disabilities) and asked detailed questions on their desires and barriers to employment.
When we talked with businesses, we were glad to hear most are eager to employ adults with disabilities. However, they were honest when they shared they don’t know what is involved in hiring and training, so consequently they do not pursue them.
Putting all this data together with the new federal regulations under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), we strongly believe it is time to provide a vocational training facility specifically for people with disabilities that will meet the needs of our community, our schools and the growing demand for a skilled workforce.
**Survey data collected February 2017