Creating Opportunities: The Career Attainment Pathway Program

Omnisource and East Allen County Schools

Acknowledging the talents of individuals with disabilities is important.

So, in the final stretch of Autism Acceptance Month, let’s highlight one collaboration that is doing this well. The partnership between Omnisource and East Allen County Schools (EACS) and their Career Attainment Pathway (CAP) program gives students with disabilities a chance to gain skills that can be used in the workforce.

Students in the program participate in tasks such as dismantling computers, laptops, and other electronic devices at EACS, similar to jobs at Omnisource Electronics Group (OER) in Fort Wayne.

The goal of the program is to identify jobs where skills can be developed through hands-on training and set expectations and goals for them. When the students are both capable and interested in the task being trained, the process of getting hired permanently begins.

CAP, which started in the fall of 2019, is modeled after a similar program started by an electronic recycling company in Denver, Colorado. Members of Omnisource, EACS and the AWS Foundation traveled to Denver to draw inspiration and bring the concept back home.

At its core, CAP aims to do more than just provide employment opportunities. However, they recognize that not all students who are enrolled in the program will want to move forward in pursuing a job or can meet the expectations.

The program acknowledges the diverse talents and interests of participants, striving to match them with roles where they can thrive. The tools that are used at Omnisource to dismantle, including drills and screwdrivers, are the same ones at the school. This gives those who choose to work at Omnisource after school a sense of familiarity and helps make the transition smoother.

Two students started with the program EACS and currently work at the Omnisource Electronics Group.

However, CAP is not without its challenges. Transportation remains a hurdle for many participants, highlighting the need for solutions to ensure access to employment opportunities. Despite these obstacles, the program remains committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone has the chance to succeed.

The environment at Omnisource is welcoming to people from all walks of life and at different stages in life. They also employ people from the Redemption House and CORE Inc. Redemption House is a network of transition homes for women that serves as an alternative to incarceration. CORE is an organization that provides vocational training for people with disabilities. Additionally, Omnisource employs retirees for part-time jobs.

Every person should have the opportunity to explore and acquire jobs that fit their skills and interests. When an individual is employed in the community, they can achieve greater independence, build wealth and develop self-esteem.

One of the most encouraging aspects of CAP is its potential for duplication at other organizations. As the program continues to evolve and demonstrate its effectiveness, there’s hope that more companies and organizations will follow suit, creating similar initiatives tailored to their respective industries.

By working together, we can break down barriers and create a more inclusive workforce where everyone can thrive.

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