Breaking Barriers – The Abilities Training Initiative

Feb 03, 2017

By Edward C. Peachey, President & CEO, CareerSource Pinellas

Thanks to The Able Trust, a nonprofit partnership that works to provide Floridians with disabilities opportunities for successful employment, The Science Center of St. Petersburg, Florida, will be able to help dozens more people with disabilities like Jesse Lafferty. Jesse lives with PTSD so severe, it left him unemployed for over a year. 

"There was no future.  There was no light at the end of the tunnel," Jesse said. 

The Science Center works to inspire, motivate and stimulate innovative thinking in the areas of science, technology, engineering, math, and career development through instruction, hands-on, and experiential education delivered through partnerships with schools, corporations, universities, and community. Recently, CareerSource Pinellas was fortunate to receive a $250,000 grant from The Able Trust. The grant spans a period of three years and will enhance The Science Center’s collaboration with local employers and community partners to provide pre-vocational training and workforce readiness services to dozens of local residents with disabilities. The Abilities Training Initiative involves individual assessment, classroom training, on-the-job training, workforce readiness, job coaching, counseling, and supportive services, all of which allow individuals to smoothly transition in the workforce.

We are pleased to report that Jesse’s determination and the Able Trust contribution have granted him access to prevocational training for in-demand jobs in growing industries of manufacturing, construction, and information technology. He is now excelling in his new job in construction. To ensure successful training completion and job retention, Jesse went through a rigorous suitability assessment for training in the fields of Soldering & Cabling, Industrial Machine Maintenance, Manufacturing, Construction, Cyber Security, and Irrigation.

Jessie tells us, “I love my job. It makes me feel like I am making a difference. I enjoy being a part of the construction team.”

Recent research by the Florida Chamber Foundation concluded that of the 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities of working age, almost 63 percent are not in the workforce. This equates to an untapped talent pool of more than 700,000 individuals.

Susanne Homant, President of the Able Trust, explains this overwhelming need by highlighting that the biggest barrier people with disabilities have to overcome is misperceptions in the business community of what their capabilities are.

This program’s goal is to train those who are often overlooked and help them overcome barriers.  With this mission in mind, we have projected to enroll 20 individuals within the first year of the Abilities Training Initiative program and successfully complete their pre-vocational training, while anticipating an employment rate of 65 percent. Concentrating on the skills that manufacturing employers want most, we plan to make a positive difference by supplying companies with the talent they need and giving individuals with unique abilities a new start in a great career.

An equal opportunity employer/program.  Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.
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