BCI conducted thorough research before opening our Skills Center. We toured several vocational training facilities and found most accept only a small number of people with diagnosed disabilities. Applicants were also required to academically test into the program, and only the highest functioning were admitted.
We also spoke to our local school districts. We asked them what was missing in regard to vocational training for people with disabilities. They told us students with behavioral issues were not allowed to train, even if they had been academically accepted. They also told us that, for those who were not accepted into traditional training, field trip-style work experiences were provided. However, there were no fully developed programs with assessment documentation or proven results of sustained employment. These teachers feared that the supports and services after graduation were even scarcer.
We also surveyed individuals** (both youth and adults with disabilities) and asked questions regarding their desires and barriers to employment.
When we talked with businesses, we were glad to hear 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 believed it was time to provide a vocational training facility specifically for people with disabilities that would meet the needs of our community, our schools, and the growing demand for a skilled workforce.
**Survey data collected February 2017