Why Removing Employment Barriers Benefits Everyone
When we started Quality Connections in 1999, there was a man who was our inspiration and who represented all we wanted to accomplish. His name was Ben Sutcliffe and he was the college roommate of our co-founder, Armando. He also happened to have Cerebral Palsy, which limited his physical abilities, but not his mental capacity.
Ben had two things he wanted more than anything: a girlfriend and a job. After Quality Connections was formed, Ben became out Webmaster, uploading products onto our website using his communication device.
(He ultimately met and married the love of his life – Armando was his best man).
Ben’s story illustrates why we do what we do at Quality Connections. We sincerely believe that when we empower people with disabilities and remove the barriers that keep them in the workforce, everybody wins. The individuals who find employment, of course, and our community which benefits when they pay taxes. Businesses also benefit: a 2018 study by the business services company Accenture reported that companies that actively seek to employ people with disabilities outperform those that do not with higher revenues and net profits. Other studies indicate that individuals with disabilities stay in their jobs longer and have lower absenteeism than other employees.
Our employment and training services are as unique as the people we are helping. There’s no “cookie cutter” approach, because we are serving people with a wide range of disabilities and life experiences. An individual might have a physical disability, a cognitive or developmental delay, a visual impairment or suffer from anxiety.
Our first step is assessment. What skills does the person have, what work are they interested in and what barriers are keeping them from employment in that field? Do they need help with “soft skills” or additional outside training or a certificate to qualify for a particular line of work? How will they get to the workplace?
Sometimes, our work involves helping clients get over the fears they might have about being in the workplace, such as concerns about being mocked or made to feel uncomfortable about their disability. We dive into why they are worried and how they can deal with that fear or what to do if situations like that arise.
We also help with the nuts-and-bolts typically associated with finding employment: online job searches, how to write a resume and cover letter, what to say in an interview. We hold mock interviews before the real interview and we’ll even accompany them as long as the employer allows us to be there, which they will about 99% of the time.
Once an individual is successfully placed in a job, we follow up every week to check in with that individual and his or her employer to make sure this new relationship is working out.
Some of the people we work with and train may ultimately come to work for Quality Connections. You might have talked to them when you phone our QC Office call center or seen them when they come to deliver your office supplies.
Ultimately, however, we want to ensure that when a client finishes with our services, they can enter the workforce successfully, regardless of the barriers they initially faced. We want them to have the success we all feel when we find meaningful employment. And we want them to be confident that they can do it on their own, from the application process to interviewing to landing and keeping that position.
For a service that is all about helping others try to find employment, our goal is to work ourselves out of a job.