In researching the development of the Skills Center, we toured several vocational training facilities and found that most accept only a small number of people with diagnosed disabilities. Furthermore, applicants were required to academically test into the program, and only the highest functioning were getting in.
We also spoke to our local school districts. We asked them what was missing with regard to vocational training for people with disabilities. They told us students with behavioral issues are not allowed to train, even if they’ve been academically accepted. They also told us that, for those who aren’t accepted into traditional training, field trip-style work experiences are provided. However, there are no fully developed programs with assessment documentation or proven results of sustained employment. These 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 that many were eager to employ adults with disabilities. However, since most didn't fully understand what was involved in hiring and training this unique population, their concerns kept them from pursuing the idea.
Putting all this information together with the 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