A workforce program gets creative to help job seekers living with disabilities

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Millions of Americans are struggling with unemployment during the pandemic and people living with disabilities face unique challenges when finding work.

It’s already stressful enough trying to find a job during the pandemic, but Ishmael Pierson says it’s good to have someone in his corner. 

“During the times how it is now because of the pandemic, like I found a job working for Guthries when I filled it out, but when I turned it in they weren’t really hiring because we were on lockdown for a good while,” Pierson said.

From building your resume to securing the job, Amara Knight with Easterseals says they’re there to hold their client’s hand.

“You know even just starting with the applications for some of them it’s a challenge to fill those out properly and like you said the interviews.. going to that and not being prepared for how to answer the question, what to expect. That can definitely be overwhelming,” Knight said.

Many of the individuals they work with have a mental or physical disability.  Knight says although they have not lost any job placement sites, the pandemic makes it a struggle to find new sites.

“With our training sites being limited with having to adhere to the policies there and some of them just can’t have us in right now which is completely understandable. So, we’re having to get creative with where we send them and to try and find some new contacts,” Knight said.

Since the pandemic started many businesses are having a lot of their employees work from home. Knight says it has not impacted clients that have already been placed, but it makes it difficult to place new clients that benefit from hands-on tasks.

Easterseals says since the start of the pandemic they have downsized from working with around 40 clients to 25 and are averaging around 12 job placements a month.

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