Labor Today: Workers With Disabilities Honor Local Employers

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A recent gathering of Inland Empire business leaders and politicians celebrates organizations that work to train and place people with disabilities and the businesses that hire them.

We as service providers – employment training and placement agencies – get to come together and say ‘Thank you’ to these employers, and show our dignitaries and politicians just how important and valuable these programs and services are to our state.

Businesses and job training organizations from throughout the Inland Empire gathered recently to recognize employers and celebrate the achievements of workers with disabilities employed throughout California at the second annual Inland Empire Caucus Partnership Recognition event.

“The unemployment level among people with disabilities in general is over 20 percent. It’s much higher for people with intellectual disabilities,” said Christopher Rice, executive director of California Disability Services Association in an interview with Labor Today magazine's Jeff Allen. “To have this number of employers doing things with the folks in the Inland Empire is really wonderful.”

“We as service providers – employment training and placement agencies – get to come together and say ‘Thank you’ to these employers, and show our dignitaries and politicians just how important and valuable these programs and services are to our state,” said Wendy Rogina, executive director of Vocational Improvement Program, Inc. (VIP). “VIP is an employment training and placement program. We provide employment service [for] entry-level types of employment to many businesses throughout the Inland Empire.” According to its website, VIP’s mission is to maximize the potential of individuals with disabilities.

“We’ve been existence since 1986, almost 27 years now, and provide services annually to just over 650 individuals with disabilities,” Rogina explained. Employers can find workers for direct hire, contract with VIP similar to a temporary employment agency, or subcontract services from one of VIP’s three manufacturing facilities.

“Across the country, corporations are starting to identify the true value of these types of partnerships,” Rogina explained. “More and more people on a daily basis are making calls to programs like ours to see how they can do this, and asking for our program assistance to get it done. Statewide, our legislators control some of that so we have to make it very clear to them how valuable these programs continue to be.”

“The California Disability Services Association supports the activities of service providers for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the state,” said Executive Director Rice. “One of the key activities they all do is to support people in getting employment. This event recognizes employers who have hired or are contracting with service providers for people with developmental disabilities to have jobs.”

“Our service providers make sure that they are matching the right people to every position they place someone in,” Rice continued. “[Employers are] finding folks who are tremendously motivated, who are anxious to prove that they can do the job, and as a result, what employers talk about is how they get better attendance, more involvement, more enthusiasm from the people that are brought by our service providers. This is a new world, where everyone is concerned about the bottom line. The surprising thing for employers is frequently that the bottom line can be improved by the people we bring to them for employment.”

“Our organizations here are working hard to give them [people with disabilities] a full life,” said Assemblyman Mike Morrell, who represents California’s 40th District. “God bless the training centers that work to do that, to make families whole, and keep them busy, give them a purpose and an income, and I tell you what, they’re very productive, so it’s a good thing to see.”

Morrell said, he has toured facilities such as VIPs and “number one, their training is excellent. Number two, they produce a good product, meaning that they train these people with disabilities in an excellent manner and put them out in the work force. From what I’ve seen, talking with many employers, these young people who they’re training are some of the hardest, most dedicated workers, and they rarely take time off. VIP, and organizations like it, does an excellent job on training and putting them out in the workforce and our employers in the Inland Empire are grateful for these young folks.”

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Dwight Cromie

Bill Friedl
Altek Media Group
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