In May of 2020, we decided to change the format of our Career Academy Program, commonly referred to as Vocational Habilitation, to a service that helps individuals with disabilities work on skills that will help them obtain and maintain a job in the community independently. While in the program the individuals meet in a classroom-based setting to work on their employment skills as well as volunteering at different places in the community completing work assessments.
Ability Works was previously a subminimum wage certificate holder meaning, we were able to pay our Vocational Habilitation workers less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The US Commission on Civil Rights has stated that the time has come to phase out subminimum wages and Ability Works has moved forward with that thought. To do so, we no longer offer in-house work with partnered businesses on our large-scale work floor.
Instead, we partner with businesses to offer our Group Employment services, these partnerships because our individuals get great work experience, a competitive wage, and the businesses get quality work done.
One of our more recent Group Employment sites was Freudenberg in Milan, where the group worked on a roving line with other workers from Freudenberg packaging parts. The group got great experience working in a factory while being paid competitive wages.
So now our vocational habilitation group meets in a classroom-based setting working on their employment skills, volunteering, and working at these group employment sites. While many people miss the work floor, the new direction of our Vocational Habilitation Service provides a better experience for our individuals. Giving them more education opportunities to learn and refine skills that would make them valuable employees earning competitive wages.