Job Driven Training

Image of man with an intellectual disability working in a grocery store.

Job Driven training prepares people to work at in-demand jobs, such as in the grocery industry, as Pharmacy Technicians and Retail Associates, and as Human Services Professionals.

Polus develops partnerships with employers to create job- driven training programs to train and employ people who have disabilities or other barriers to employment. Job-driven training is defined as “training that is responsive to the needs of employers.” We help ready-to-work job seekers fill in-demand that offer meaningful competitive integrated employment and a sustainable career path.

In partnership with the Mass Hire North Central Workforce Board and Career Center, our job-driven training programs follow the guidelines set by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA): 

Work up-front with employers to determine hiring needs and design training programs that are responsive to those needs.

We coordinate with employers to make sure the training we provide teach participants skills that have a high likelihood of leading to employment. Whenever possible we follow up our online workshops with presentations by employers, work-based learning opportunities.

Offer work-based learning opportunities with employers – including on-the-job training and internships as training paths to employment.

While classroom time (virtual in our case) can be important, individuals can quickly learn skills when hands-on experience in a work environment is integrated with what they’ve learned in class. Our ESP students participate in work readiness training, then receive customized internships based on their career interests. Our Employment Now Initiative participants spend 6-9 months working in various departments at Mass Eye and Ear Institute (MEEI), to add to their resume and test out jobs that might lead to a career path. Our Retail Skills for Success in Grocery program offers 4 weeks of virtual training followed by 4 weeks of paid On-the-Job-Training at Whole Foods or Price Chopper.

Offer user-friendly information for job seekers to choose pathways that work for them and are likely to result in jobs.

We work with the Mass Hire Workforce Boards and review their regional blueprints to understand current and projected local, regional, state, and national labor markets. We study that information on the number and types of jobs available; projected regional job growth; and specific job characteristics, skills requirements, and career opportunities to determine how we might best match our job seekers with employers with our job seekers. Ours is not a charity model of “finding” or creating busy work for people with disabilities, but engaging with employers to help them fill critical in-demand jobs with talented people looking to overcome stigmas and be given a chance to do meaningful work.

Promote flexible work that has a career path.

Our job-driven training programs make it easy for individuals to transition from the conceptual “soft skills” and technical education to entry-level positions that offer opportunities for advancement. But gone are the days that require everyone to work 40 hours at a workplace.

For example, a career in the grocery industry is not necessarily a temporary nor a menial job, and certainly people with disabilities can do more than just collect carts. Grocery jobs offer opportunities to learn a variety of trades such as food preparation, baking, customer service, flower arrangements, money management. A person can work 10 hours or 40. There are opportunities to take on leadership positions and further your education. And it opens the door to social interactions on a daily basis. People who graduate from our Pharmacy Technician training get a job in a retail setting, which gives them the opportunity to bank up the hours needed to take their state Pharmacy Technician exam, and the knowledge they need to take the national exam, making them a highly sought nationally certified Pharmacy Tech.

Break down barriers to hiring for any American who is willing and able to work, including access to job supports and relevant guidance.

In order for training programs to work, they need to be accessible for the people who need them most. Our job-driven training programs provide access to needed supportive services such as transportation, childcare, and financial and benefits counseling. For example, we have a connection with Second Chance Cars. We help people identify and access accommodations and offer workshops on disclosing disability to help people with a disability decide when and how to discuss what they need to be successful on the job.

Create regional collaborations with MassHire, education institutions, and other on-profits.

In addition to working with employers, Polus’ job-driven training programs work with a variety of partners including Workforce Investment Boards and the Career Centers they oversee, higher education institutions, state and local human service agencies, vocational rehabilitation agencies, centers for independent living, supported employment providers, community- and faith-based organizations, and other non-profit organizations. These partners provide a network of employment, training and related services that help individuals overcome barriers to becoming and staying employed and serve many vulnerable populations that can benefit from our job-driven training programs.