CORD Provides Soft-Skills Training for Youth Seeking Employment

It’s not always easy to find a job in today’s economy and, if you or someone you know has a disability, it can be particularly challenging. But help is available to young people who can use a little guidance in landing that first job.

Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled (CORD) offers a special program for young people, ages 16-21, who have a disability, to find that first work experience.

CORD’s Transitional Internship Program, or TIP, was launched in 2011 as a summer program and is now available year-round – the first of its kind. The program prepares youth and young adults with disabilities for their first work experience by integrating skills-training sessions with “soft-skills” topics, such as interviewing, how to shake hands correctly, maintaining eye contact, using public transportation, how to fill out an application, applying online, employment benefits and more.

“These types of skills are ones the rest of us often take for granted,” said Coreen Brinckerhoff, President and CEO of CORD. “We teach the students how to work with others and how to communicate. We start a resume for them and show them how to add to it, and educate them on disability information and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), as well as reasonable accommodations in the workplace and what that means.” These skills are taught by CORD staff, she added.

The number of students in TIP has been increasing each year since its inception, and the program will be expanding to Martha’s Vineyard in February. “There is a growing need for this type of program there, and we’re addressing that need,” Brinckerhoff said. Nantucket is also a service area that CORD will be looking into in the future.

Joining the program is not as easy as walking in off the street. Potential participants must go through the Massachusetts Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program and be referred to CORD through them. “The VR program is the front line in finding people who can use our program,” said Brinckerhoff. She added that you can call the CORD office first, however, and receive direction on how to begin the procedure.

“It’s been very successful,” Brinckerhoff said. “Some of our students go on to full employment as either volunteers or as paid employees. There are great employers and business people here on the Cape and Islands.”

TIP is unlike any other supported vocational program. In addition to teaching young people life skills for employment, it packs its program with the benefits of advocacy and support, and is consumer controlled. Upon completion of the training, participants are placed in a suitable work environment that is supported by professional staff.

“This is a win for everyone. Employers get good labor and our participants get a great work experience and get integrated into the community. We take everyone and try to place everyone who comes into the program,” said Brinckerhoff. “If participants need a job coach, we provide that and pay for it. This is a huge program for us and it’s very important for us to celebrate our students and the employers who hire them.”

TIP requires commitment, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn from those who participate. The results are definitely worth the time it takes to get into the program. To get more information on TIP, contact the CORD office at 508-775-8300 or visit cordcapecod.org.

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About Ann Luongo

Ann Luongo is the Marketing Writer and Lifestyle Reporter for CapeCod.com, and has been writing for Cape Cod and South Shore publications for over 15 years.



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