AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The Texas Workforce Commission's five-week Summer Earn and Learn program is looking to prepare teenagers to enter the workforce someday.
Workforce Solutions Panhandle is now recruiting employers across the Panhandle to give them their first opportunities.
“It’s an opportunity to highlight their abilities rather than their disabilities and to prove employers that they have the work ethics and the work habits and responsibility to be great employees,” said Workforce Solutions Director Trent Morris.
The organization will partner with TWC's Vocational Rehabilitation Service counselors.
“Those counselors identify appropriate students who are able to find employment over the summer, then they refer them to us and then we seek opportunities for employment based upon their abilities and their interest and the type of work they’re looking for as well as where they live and where they go to school at,” said Morris.
Morris said one challenge job seekers with disabilities face is finding employment in their own communities.
“Many times these students are from outside the Amarillo area and we’re traveling to Childress or Dumas or Pampa or Hereford and all around the Panhandle trying to find employment opportunities,” he said. “We go to those communities and we talk to employers and find out who’s available and what kind of employment opportunities are present and we look at matching the student with those employers and we want them to have a good first experience at work.”
One employer that's involved in the program is United Supermarket, which provides opportunities for people with disabilities year-round.
“United Supermarket does employ several team members with disabilities,” said Assistant Service Manager at United Supermarket Tony Wilkerson. “We feel it’s a great inspiration to the community, it helps them out. I’ve met so many great people. And they’ve gone on to do bigger and better things and we’ve had some that have actually stayed with us for full time employment.”
Morris believes the program is a confidence booster for students involved.
“We just need to prove to these individuals that they’re valuable to employers and increase their confidence level, make sure that they know that they have valuable skills that the employers can utilize and certainly to focus on those skills, not the disability, but the ability side,” he said.