Valley Packaging Industries, Inc., has expanded its prevocational skills training program for people with disabilities, thanks to a $54,730 grant from the Bright Idea Fund withing the Community Foundation. The grant enables Valley Packaging to increase clients served, client skills developed, and clients placed in competitive, community-based jobs by incorporating overall wellness, technology skills, and service-oriented transferable skills training.
By Lissa Marth, marketing director, Valley Packaging Industries
Renovating facility space, shopping for café supplies, procuring computer hardware, and sourcing fitness equipment are on the top of the Valley Packaging Industries (VPI), “to do” list this month! Why? VPI’s Prevocational Skills Training team was just awarded a grant from the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region to expand upon its Prevocational Skills Training Program services.
Benefiting hundreds of people with disabilities annually, VPI’s new Transferable Skills Training will address critical skills associated with overall wellness, workplace technology, and service-oriented transferable job skills needed for competitive employment.
People with disabilities often experience significant employment barriers, which contribute to poverty and prevent self-sufficiency. This new evidence-based program provides VPI with the enhancement tools and team to increase the scope of individualized training opportunities; provide instruction, coaching, and support in these critical areas; and offers a safe learning environment for clients to practice real café and retail jobs.
VPI currently provides prevocational skills training for people with disabilities in a manufacturing setting, focused on skills for production and general labor.
Sam is one of hundreds of VPI clients who participate in VPI’s Prevocational Skills Training Program. Sam communicates nonverbally and navigates physical and intellectual disabilities.
“Through VPI’s individualized training approach to Sam’s needs, interests, and abilities, we have identified a multitude of adaptations for Sam to train with success, work productively, and experience inclusiveness,” says Michelle LeBeau, prevocational skills training manager for Valley Packaging. “With the creation of adaptive devices to assist Sam with his work, time with training, and a safe learning environment, Sam is now clearly an asset to VPI’s assembly team.”
The new Transferable Skills Training enhances the core skills that more than 300 clients are already developing annually and prepares them to participate in jobs representing more than 30% of local industries: food service, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, and general labor.
Overall wellness, stamina, and basic computer skills are required for many work opportunities. Fitness experts will teach clients in small group classes to learn, connect socially, and exercise. Basic nutrition, healthy food choices, strength, coordination, stamina, and functional mobility will be emphasized.
Basic computer skills (keyboarding, email use, online job searching, and basic use of Microsoft Office programs) will be taught in a new computer lab.
To develop transferable service-oriented skills, hands-on experience in in-house café jobs will equip clients for competitive positions in the retail, food service, and hospitality industries. Clients will work in a kiosk café to take orders, handle money, use cash registers, stock inventory, merchandise items for sale, communicate with VPI employee customers, and learn how to maintain a clean environment.
By expanding the technical training to include basic computer use, money handling, merchandising, food service, and customer service skills, many Fox Cities employer partners will be positively impacted by hiring reliable, trained workers. This program impacts hundreds of adults with disabilities, local employers, and the Fox Cities community at large.
VPI’s sense of urgency and excitement is high as space renovations needed for these new training dimensions are already underway. Equipment, supplies, and staff development will be complete by May 2019 to start clients in an initial pilot program.
VPI expects to be up and fully running by June with plans to offer its services to other local vocational skills trainers and their clients, so as many people in need can experience these skill-building benefits.
This innovative training program is central to VPI’s mission: To promote the dignity and worth of individuals who have disabilities or are disadvantaged and to assist them in developing their optimum level of social, vocational and economic independence in the community.
For more information, contact Lissa Marth at Valley Packaging Industries.
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