Note: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
By Way2Work Maryland
Way2Work Maryland, a five-year federal RSA research grant in Maryland, connects students with disabilities in local school systems across the state to community rehabilitation providers to participate in Work-Based Learning Experiences.
Way2Work student Kenneth Singletary was connected to TransCen, Inc. for services in his junior year thanks to a partnership between the University of Maryland, the Maryland Department of Education’s Division of Rehabilitation Services and its pre-employment transition services funding, and the Harford County, Maryland school system.
Willamae Williams, a TransCen employment specialist, met with Kenneth and his family to determine his skills and interests. Kenneth explained that he really wanted to pursue auto mechanics to learn more about that industry as a career.
Together, Kenneth and Williams identified Jiffy Lube as a business where he would like to work. Williams contacted the local Jiffy Lube and was directed to the corporate office where she was able to set up a meeting with the district manager. She presented the idea of working with a local youth interested in starting a career in auto mechanics, while both Kenneth and the employer could receive support from TransCen throughout the process.
After Kenneth participated in a meet-and-greet with the manager, they arranged a six-week work-based learning experience that outlined Kenneth’s goals, his accommodations, and Jiffy Lube’s expectations. Williams worked weekly with Kenneth and Jiffy Lube to assure that Kenneth was learning all he hoped to, was getting the supports he needed and that the employer’s expectations were met.
Kenneth loved the work he was doing at Jiffy Lube and was interested in learning more.
With support from Williams, Kenneth advocated for himself to work more; as a result, the Jiffy Lube manager agreed to extend Kenneth’s work-based learning experience six more weeks and to pay him.
Kenneth was able to slowly learn the tasks and Jiffy Lube work culture while receiving help from Williams, and the employer was able to get to know Kenneth as they trained him with the support from TransCen.
Jiffy Lube hired Kenneth as an employee at the end of the second six-week work-based learning experience.
This arrangement was a win-win opportunity for both Kenneth and the employer, because Kenneth had learned to be a great worker that Jiffy Lube knew was trained and ready to hit the ground running.
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