Beth Tauro: How ‘Transitions To Work’ Works

Jobs for people with disabilities require training and support.

What was your first job? Did you find it by walking into a shop or restaurant on your own, or did a family connection help you to find it? Was it a struggle to find that first job or did you have a choice of positions?

For some, getting hired is an easier process than for others. Many of us may have never given a second thought to our ability to find work, or to the many skills we possess that allow us to approach a potential employer with confidence and ease.

Individuals with disabilities are talented, skilled, qualified applicants who are able, dedicated and successful colleagues, yet getting hired is a high hurdle. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is roughly twice as high as the general population. Transitions to Work is a program that aims to make hiring practices more inclusive while giving people with disabilities the support, guidance and connections they need to get a job.

Based in Boston, Transitions to Work teaches participants to meet and exceed the needs and requirements of an employer. The training lasts three months and includes classroom and hands-on training sessions held at the sites of employers who partner with the program.

The training includes skills that could be used in any work setting like customer service, computer literacy, resume writing and workplace etiquette, plus an eight-week internship that focuses on soft and career-specific skills needed to work for the employers who partner with the program.

Participants have gone on to work in a number of jobs including customer greeter, restaurant host, data entry worker, office clerk, waiter, health club locker room attendant, cashier, mailroom worker, housekeeper, café manager and stockroom staffer. Our employer partners hire Transitions to Work graduates because it is good for business. Many have hired multiple candidates.

Corporate commitment is the cornerstone to creating and implementing inclusive hiring. Transition to Work has built relationships with a number of companies who have seen the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. The program emphasizes the bottom line benefits to a company with inclusive hiring practices, including:

Higher Productivity – Employees with disabilities typically exhibit higher loyalty, lower turnover and contribute to the collegiality of the workplace.

Increased Market Share – Individuals with disabilities and their families are an expanding customer base and loyal patrons of companies that do inclusive hiring.

Expanded Talent Pool – People with disabilities are an underused pool of talented, skilled and qualified applicants.

Public Relations – Inclusive hiring positively impacts a company’s image.

Diversity and Morale – All employees report a higher degree of workplace satisfaction when working in integrated teams.

Beth Tauro is the business community liaison at Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston. The Transitions to Work program educates employers on inclusive hiring. It’s a collaboration of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Jewish Vocational Service and the Ruderman Family Foundation. Funding is provided by the Ruderman Family Foundation and a grant through The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.