Workforce Solutions of East Texas helps students with disabilities find jobs

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Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 5:42 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2022 at 10:49 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Today is National Disability Independence Day, a celebration of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a human rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found the unemployment rate for disabled people was 10.1% -- about twice as high as the rate for those without a disability.

Workforce Solutions East Texas SEAL program (Summer Earn and Learn) is available for students with disabilities to participate in a five-week paid work experience. The students can work at locations across East Texas including Goodwill, CVS, and Hangers of Hope.

Bret Lee, who is working at Hangers of Hope through the program, starts and ends each shift by hugging each coworker.

“It’s fun! I get to talk to them, just chat, and see how their days are going,” Lee said.

Workforce Solutions East Texas explains the program is meant to help close the unemployment gap, provide workplace readiness training to prepare for successful employment, and paid work experience to help participants gain familiarity with the workplace environment and identify future career goals.

The program is also for employers. “When they have people with disabilities working there, they demonstrate that they can get the job done and many times more efficiently,” Workforce Solutions of East Texas area operations manager Stephen Lynch said.

“It’s not a dead end with a disability. It’s an opportunity, but we got to identify that, and that way we can put them in a place where their abilities match what they employer has,” Lynch said.

“It’s almost something that I almost can’t put into words,” Workforce Solutions of East Texas partnership manager Carolyn Garrett said. “Seeing the faces, and the smiles, and the first time maybe that they even interact with a customer, or the first time they clock in, or the most amazing thing is the first paycheck that they received knowing that they earned those wages.”

To get involved, visit the Workforce Solutions website.

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