People Working with a Disability are Michigan’s Hidden Talent
MiMfg Magazine June 2018
By Brent Mikulski • Services to Enhance Potential (STEP)
There is a cluster in Michigan’s labor pool under the radar and hidden from the public eye, especially in manufacturing. They are trained, qualified, loyal, and focused on quality in getting the job done. They also have a disability. The national unemployment rate for individuals with a disability is twice that of non-disabled — 8.8 percent versus 4.3 percent. In Michigan, only 30 percent of disabled individuals work. Those employed are working for organizations like Ford, IBM, Proctor & Gamble, Aetna, Amazon, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Walgreens; organizations that should be celebrated for realizing the value of a diverse workforce.
These companies partner with Community Rehabilitation Organizations (CRO) and other non-profits to train and prepare individuals to fill these roles. Training can be performed on site or at one of CRO’s warehouses, producing products for companies like BASF, the Department of Defense, and various auto suppliers. CRO training programs may be tailored to the specific needs of a company and prepare workers for short-term or long-term employment.
Jerome works at First Choice Windows, a family owned business that has welcomed him into their family. He first completed an internship, learning how to assemble and manufacture windows. The job at First Choice was a collaborative effort between
Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority and Services to Enhance Potential to match an individual with a disability with a local job that matches their skillset.
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