SERVICES TO ENHANCE POTENTIAL IS READY TO RESPOND TO ENHANCED NEED FOR EMPLOYEES
Services To Enhance Potential (STEP) is a non-profit organization which provides supports and services to over 1,400 persons with disabilities and other mental health needs in Wayne County. STEP provides and supports a variety of employment and self-employment options including job training and job placement for people with developmental disabilities.
In early March 2020, COVID-19 began to impact businesses in the state of Michigan. Many companies were deemed nonessential, reduced their operations, and laid off a number of workers, including a number of people STEP placed in jobs around Metro Detroit.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May,unemployment in Michigan was at 21%. Traditionally, disabled individuals are unemployed twice as much as nondisabled individuals, which suggests that those individuals were at a greater disadvantage when the pandemic struck, and jobs were lost or the search for employees came to a halt.
Despite the current high level of unemployed individuals, local employers are having a difficult time filling a large number of available positions. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program was put into place to supplement the usual unemployment so that unemployed individuals could survive the economic crisis. It also meant that workers in jobs that require a high school diploma or less were bringing home much more than they would while actively working. Companies in Southeastern Michigan are having a difficult time in finding qualified workers, in part because workers today are earning more by collecting unemployment than by being gainfully employed.
Since March 7, 2020 STEP has placed 15 individuals with developmental disabilities in jobs at 14 different companies throughout the region. These include fast food, packaging, environmental services and customer service. “What sets STEP apart is that all of our consumers receive continuous communication that gives them the support they need to be successful in their new positions,” said Brent Mikulski, President & CEO of STEP. “We work with the employees to ensure that they have an understanding of the benefits of working and how it impacts their benefits.”
“We are grateful to the businesses we work with to ensure our consumers receive the right training for the right jobs,” said Mikulski. STEP’s business partners that employ individuals with a disability frequently participate in job development activities including mock job interviewing and serve as an advocates to help promote the employment of individuals with a disability.
“Laquita has been a vital addition to our Dietary Operations at StoneCrest Center” Elliott Brown, Director of Operations, Stonecrest Hospital. “Laquita has an innate work ethic that is crucial in keeping our fast-paced kitchen moving. ”StoneCrest Center is a 182-bed psychiatric hospital, with approximately 300 staff.“ Laquita plays a vital role in aiding with food preparations for our rotating menu, and nearly single-handedly sustains utensil and dish sanitations. She is always mindful about ensuring she is playing her part in maintaining kitchen cleanliness and safety. When asked to carry through with any task, Laquita does it with a smile, and tact. On delivery day, when the team needs to put up stock and count inventory, you wouldn’t want to do that task without her. She is a real team player, and I would not even think of replacing her. In fact, I wish I had the ability to clone her!”
STEP also has placed people at the Kroger Marketplace in Southgate. “STEP has helped us find people who are excited about working and actually want to work,” said HR Supervisor, Kroger. “Working with STEP has been great. Anytime there is a need or a concern, STEP has been there to help in any way they can.”
“DQB has partnered with STEP for many years,” Bev Martin, Detroit Quality Brush Manufacturing Company. “We have had a crew working and training with us, up until the shutdown occurred. During this time, one of the crew members, Jeff, came up to see how we were doing. He had been such a good worker that we offered him a job. He is a hard worker and is doing a great job! We are looking forward to getting back to working with more people from STEP as soon as we can get back to work.”
To learn more about working with STEP and becoming a business partner by training and placing a worker with developmental disabilities, please contact Terey Delisle at email@example.com or 734-722-1000 x 1643. For more information, visit www.stepcentral.org.