Madison County program helps college students with disabilities get jobs

Madison County program helps college students with disabilities get jobs

Now that three courses of scholars with disabilities from numerous Madison County communities have accomplished the apprenticeship program, leaders hope to take their mannequin to the nationwide stage.

This system permits highschool seniors to attend faculty within the morning and work part-time within the afternoon. The aim is for college students to Achieve office expertise to transition into maturity and presumably a job after commencement.

“These are individuals who weren’t included,” stated Tony Foreman, director of the Madison County Division of Employment and Coaching, who helped begin this system in 2021.

Assistant Director Darlene Ladd places it one other approach: “People with disabilities are an missed asset within the labor market.”

This program solves two issues, in response to all members. It provides college students a possibility to enter the job market whereas offering alternative to employers To seek out additional assist when workers is brief on nearly all of them.

“It undoubtedly helps us shut staffing gaps,” stated Payton Drury, human assets director for town of Collinsville.

Forman, Ladd and Drury not too long ago offered their apprenticeship program at two nationwide conferences in Las Vegas that targeted on human assets and workforce growth for youth in current weeks.

Presently, there are 4 college students working in Collinsville, two in Madison County Transit in Edwardsville, one at Weststar Aviation in Bethalto, and there might be two or three extra within the Granite Metropolis subsequent semester, Foreman stated.

Mackenzie Walker works in housekeeping on the Gateway Conference Middle in Collinsville.

“This may give me one thing to do after I’m out of highschool,” she stated. “I will get a job right here.”

Tristan Ross

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St. Louis Public Radio

Mackenzie Walker, 17, cleans home windows on Nov. 14 on the Gateway Conference Middle in Collinsville.
Mackenzie Walker, 17, wears a walkie-talkie, a Gateway Convention Center T-shirt and a Collinsville Kahoks lanyard while working on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville, Illinois.

Tristan Ross

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St. Louis Public Radio

Mackenzie Walker, 17, wears a walkie-talkie, a Gateway Conference Middle T-shirt and a Collinsville Kahoks lanyard whereas working Nov. 14 on the Gateway Conference Middle.

Rocky begin

Final 12 months, the 4 college students collaborating in this system graduated. However though the software program is working easily now, it would not From the start, Foreman and Ladd stated.

The concept was planted in September 2021 when Madison County employment and coaching leaders and Collinsville Faculty District leaders met to debate a strategy to interact college students in the highschool particular schooling program.

By January 2022, they’d ironed out the main points with the U.S. Division of Labor, the Illinois Division of Commerce and Financial Alternative, Madison County, town of Collinsville, and the college district.

“5 ranges of presidency and paperwork went from idea to implementation in three months,” Foreman stated. “He was very quick, however there have been elevated difficulties due to his velocity, fairly frankly.”

Solely one of many first six college students graduated from this system. One pupil, who labored for the Collinsville Parks and Recreation Division, did not need to get soiled.

“What we didn’t do is we didn’t match individuals with jobs,” Ladd stated. “So, we had a recipe for catastrophe.”

Along with other crew members, Joseph Sanchez, 18, right, sets up chairs in preparation for an upcoming event on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville, Illinois.  Sanchez is a senior at Collinsville High School and part of the Apprenticeship Program for Students with Disabilities.

Tristan Ross

/

St. Louis Public Radio

Together with different crew members, Joseph Sanchez, 18, proper, units up chairs in preparation for an occasion to be held Nov. 14 on the Gateway Conference Middle in Collinsville.

From the college’s perspective, the pandemic additionally performed a serious function. The apprenticeship program started within the first semester as college students returned to highschool full-time. Mix that with the brand new work surroundings, and it did not go properly.

Kathy Kolobka, particular schooling program coordinator at Collinsville Excessive Faculty, stated it wasn’t a complete loss.

“Three of those college students are at the moment employed and attribute their enterprise success to this program,” Kolobka stated.

The struggles within the first spherical additionally confirmed the place the college, district and employers might make enhancements, she stated. From there, all events met and mentioned the main points.

“I believe that is why we’re speaking about repeating this, as a result of these early failures led to the place we are actually,” Foreman stated.

The second 12 months noticed important enchancment — all 4 college students graduated from this system and now maintain certificates from the Division of Labor that they will take to any potential employer within the nation.

Dylan Rack is a type of graduates who determined to remain part-time at Gateway Conference Middle whereas additionally beginning laptop programming courses at Southwestern Illinois Faculty.

Rack stated he plans to remain on the conference middle for now as a result of he loves the work.

“I can see what I am doing,” he stated.

Rack is joined on the Conference Middle every day by two highschool seniors, Walker and Joseph Sanchez.

Joseph Sanchez, 18, sets up chairs in preparation for an upcoming event on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville, Illinois.  Sanchez is a senior at Collinsville High School and part of the Apprenticeship Program for Students with Disabilities.

Tristan Ross

/

St. Louis Public Radio

Joseph Sanchez, 18, units up chairs Nov. 14 at Gateway Conference Middle in Collinsville.

Rack and Sanchez maintain the title of occasion companion. Their primary duties embrace getting ready for occasions.

Sanchez and Walker each joked that they had been able to graduate and be completed with homework.

Getting them out into the group is a wrestle, stated Kalobka, who has had all of those college students like Sanchez and Walker in her classroom since they had been little. Now that they’re The work, she stated, is superb to see.

“One of many hardest issues to show our college students, particularly college students with disabilities, is tips on how to be a part of the group, and this program works to combine them into the group,” Kalobka stated.

Now that Forman and others have shared the mannequin with lots of of others of their area throughout the nation, he stated he hopes different county or metropolis governments can replicate this system.

“Hopefully this can encourage somebody to say, ‘They did it.’ Why cannot we do it?” he stated.

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