‘Think Skills WI’ connects the differently-abled with employment

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – A new statewide initiative is underway to help people Think Ability Wisconsin – that’s the name of a new movement to encourage employers to open job opportunities and support those with disabilities seeking meaningful work.

According to Think Ability Wisconsin, there are currently 2.4 open positions for every job seeker in our state, yet only 19% of people with disabilities are employed.

Through this new campaign, a network of partners hopes to improve disability employment rates across Wisconsin. At New Perspective Senior Living in Howard, Bethany Allcox is settling into her new job with the kitchen team.

It makes me feel excited and happy, Allcox said.

With the help of an on-site job coach, Bethany is learning new skills, such as how to serve residents in the dining area.

I like to help them a lot. They are very good to me, Allcox said.

A new perspective began hiring those with different skills during the pandemic as they struggled with labor shortages.

This gives us an advantage because we have reliable and trustworthy staff who are committed to the position. He helps our staff and our other staff, just because of his involvement, empowerment and empathy. I think it makes them better people, too, said Nicky Brown, Business Office Manager at New Perspective Senior Living.

Now, the Think Ability Wisconsin partnership initiative is encouraging other companies to follow suit.

It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do for businesses. There are many, many benefits to employing people with disabilities. Companies that do this have 28% higher revenue. There is lower turnover, higher morale among other employees, said Rachel Reit, Project Manager at Think Ability Wisconsin.

Through a $9 million workforce innovation grant made possible by the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin, Think Ability recently launched an online resource center and call center.

A big part of the project is to gather all the partners and resources in a single center for people with disabilities, their families, employers, educators, who are simply looking for resources for transition and employment, but do not know where . to return, Reit said.

With tools and information at your fingertips, the goal is to remove barriers and empower those with disabilities and employers to work together to thrive.

The independence to live, get a job, maybe go to post-secondary education or attend a college program, is so important to the development of anyone really, all adults who want to live in a community, Reit said.

For Bethany, this is an opportunity to thrive and achieve her dream of working in the hospitality industry.

It’s something you want for any child and someone who has additional challenges, it’s so much more of an accomplishment to see that goal accomplished, said Cindy, Bethany’s mother.

To learn more about Think Ability Wisconsin, check out their website: https://www.thinkabilitywi.org/s/

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