Posted on April 6th, 2015 by Bob Glowacki
Beth Finke’s post last Wednesday about the high unemployment rate among people living with autism makes this a good time to publish a post about a job-training program with positive results at Easter Seals Southeast Wisconsin.
We have always encouraged short-term employment opportunities as a way for our clients to gain experience and build a resume, and we are working on more hands-on experiences for participants in our work-training activities. About two years ago we piloted a new program called Career Connect — here’s how it’s described on our web site:
Career Connect is a community-prevocational program designed to increase employment skills needed for success in the workplace. Career Connect consists of a soft skills curriculum, a variety of community outings, and internship experiences. The program is designed to increase social skills, promote career explorations, and provide opportunities to integrate participants into the community. After completing the program, participants will be ready to maintain employment in the community.
Career Connect uses daily group activities, skill-building volunteer activities and an internship component at a local technical college to go beyond individual short-term employment engagements to more individualized support. Two of our Career Connect students recently shared daily reflections about what they are learning, and I thought I’d share them with you here.
Amber worked in a local daycare, volunteered at a food pantry and spent one day at a local Sam’s Club. Here’s what she said about lessons she’d learned in classes she took in conjunction with her on-the-job experiences: “We also learned about some of the soft skills that we will need to have in order to get and keep a job. Like problem solving, conflict resolution, team work and collaborating, and communication. These are just some of the things that we will need to be able to do in our internships and our jobs.”
Another new worker, Sara, learned that we are all human and make mistakes. She wrote: “Today at work I made a mistake and didn’t clean the pan right. My co-worker helped me out with the pan. They were happy to help me out. It taught me that making mistakes is ok sometimes and people are willing to help me.”
Workshops and training are great, but nothing can substitute for what real-life experiences can do to foster personal and professional growth. Career Connect gives people like Amber and Sara experiences in the competitive work environment, and that is priceless.
Check our Easter Seals national employment training and job placement assistance resources here.