MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) – Help wanted signs are posted all over the Miami Valley. From retail, to foodservice, to sanitation… it seems like nearly every business is hiring.
Now, a new program at United Rehabilitation Services is helping to fill those holes—and grow the workforce—with some special people who are happy to get to work.
“I think people with disabilities… they’re probably the most loyal and dedicated workforce that you could find,” said Jessica Figueroa, an instructor with URS Academy.
URS Academy is a new program at United Rehabilitation Services that is aimed at getting clients ready for the workforce in a year or less.
“It teaches real-life skills that they can translate to job sites,” Figueroa said. “We try to keep very closely to specific tasks that they would be doing in the real world.”
This includes tasks like the cleaning and sanitizing they did recently at the Boonshoft Museum of Natural History. It’s one of several local businesses that have partnered with URS to give clients practice at on-site skills training.
“They’ve allowed us to come in and do work for them that simulates work in the community,” said Jeremy Nelson, URS Employment Services Manager. “It provides transferrable skills that we’re able to use for both potential employment in the future and connect learning from the classroom.”
Nelson says the URS Academy is geared toward adults from 18-21 who are coming out of school and need integrated vocational training. Other adult clients are welcome, too.
“They’re looking to transition from a workshop setting or an adult day setting and they’re interested in learning about community employment,” Nelson said.
The jobs they’re training for are in high demand, especially during the pandemic.
“Cleaning glass,” Nelson explained. “Cleaning Surfaces. Sanitation work. It’s really important right now because people don’t want to get COVID. Don’t want to get sick. So a lot of employers are hiring people to do the sanitary work so we’re able to help with that here.”
This is about more than just work, though. It’s also about finding purpose and belonging.
“Everybody deserves the chance to have meaningful work,” Figueroa said.
URS Academy clients also train at the Elks Lodge and at the Rosewood Arts Center.
The program has several new sites in the works as well, including Dayton Metro Libraries and Miami Valley Meals.
They are looking to track more employer sites through the Miami Valley, so if your business is interested, be sure to contact URS.
WDTN will host a telethon to benefit URS from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5. For more information, click here.