Published February 26, 2019
Volume 3, Number 2

Local Internships Help Disabled Workers, Employers

By Hacienda Pulse Staff Writer
Pleasanton Adult and Career Education is a department of the Pleasanton Unified School District that strives to provide lifelong learning options for a broad range of local community members. It offers a variety of educational resources, including education, training, and internship opportunities that enhance the lives of adults and teens with disabilities.

In October 2018 a new program was created called PUSD Paid Internship Program. This program provides vocational training and education for individuals with disabilities to better prepare them for competitive integrated employment and, in turn, help create a more inclusive and diverse community.

“We strive to give adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities an opportunity to gain employment skills as well as real work experience and training, which will increase their employment outcomes,” says Carolyn Murphy, Adults with Disabilities Transition Specialist for Pleasanton Adult and Career Education. “All of our programs, including wages, are funded by government agencies.”

According to Murphy, competitive integrated employment is when a person with a disability is gainfully employed and works alongside other people with or without disabilities. They are paid at least minimum wage and have the same opportunities for advancement as their coworkers. Companies gain many benefits by employing people with disabilities, she notes. They are highly motivated, committed, and reliable staff with a higher than average job retention rate.

“We are always looking for new partnerships and seeking employers that would be open to enhancing their workforce by hosting interns, as well as employers looking to hire dedicated and motivated employees into high-turnover, entry-level positions,” says Murphy. “These employees would have support from an employment training specialist who would help them learn their job, support them in their role, and then fade the support as the employee becomes skilled at their job.”

The 10-month PUSD Paid Internship Program provides vocational training and soft-skills education as well as real work experience. Interns learn three different jobs at various sites throughout the school district and the community such as custodial assistant, clerical assistant, librarian assistant, or child nutrition service assistant.
The PUSD WorkAbility Program offers high school and transition students ages 14 to 22 a variety of work-related activities that include career exploration and preparation, resume writing, job application and interview practice, as well as on-site job coaching and supervision.Students have an opportunity to obtain real work experience for one to two hours per week at various local businesses. These students are paid through a WorkAbility grant and funding from the Department of Rehabilitation.

Hacienda businesses can help themselves and their community by working with PUSD to offer internships. They can also consider joining the department’s Business Advisory Council. Business members have a minimal time commitment of only two to three meetings a year. At the meetings business members give practical feedback and insight into improving employment outcomes for individuals with developmental disabilities.

For more information about Pleasanton Adult and Career Education, please visit https://adulteducation.pleasantonusd.net. Employers interested in internships or joining the Business Advisory Council can contact Carolyn Murphy directly via email at carolyn_murphy@pleasantonusd.net.