The State of California’s Employment Training Panel announced that it approved 43 contracts worth more than $15 million in job training funds for 12,000 workers. The California Department of Rehabilitation partnered with the Employment Training Panel in 2018 to provide paid work experience and pre-vocational opportunities to students with disabilities through the Summer Training and Employment Program for Students (STEPS). In its first year, six grants totaling $1.5 million were awarded to provide 332 students with job readiness skills.
Eligible students with disabilities aged sixteen to twenty-one, who are enrolled in school, receive 40 pre-vocational and workforce training such as interview and communication skills, personal and career goal setting, and paid work readiness. Workforce agencies such as gyms, restaurants, non-profit organizations, school districts, childcare facilities, and others then offer up to 230 hours of paid work experience.
“We are pleased to provide funds to assist individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential,” said Employment Training Panel Assistant Executive Director Peter Cooper. “These funds will allow students to gain experience through on-the-job training that can lead to long-term careers.”
With an overwhelming success in participation, The California Community College Chancellor’s Office became an additional partner, and in its second year the STEPS grant increased from $1.5 million to $3.15 million in 2019. With added resources, the program was able to solicit additional proposals and provide funds to three additional awardees within its grant. This allowed the program to connect with 275 more students than the previous year, deliver over 11,000 hours of additional training, and over 63,000 more hours of work experience.
“In one way, being involved in this program is fantastic,” said Aneesa Hayden, one of the students enrolled in the STEPS program. “I can’t wait to go back to work in a couple of weeks and work in the kids club at Lord’s Gym.”
“With a vision of encompassing a California for all, fostering a more inclusive work place by extending equal employment opportunities for everyone is essential,” said Mark Erlichman, Deputy Director of the Department of Rehabilitation’s Employment Division. “Providing these resources and opportunities allows students with disabilities to overcome barriers to success and opens doors to a lifetime of employment, equality and independence.”
More information about the program can be found at www.etp.ca.gov.