A key component of our structured training program includes job skills training. Each semester training schedule is based on each resident’s Individual Program Plan (IPP) goals. Generally, job skills training places within the top five goals identified in all IPPs. This makes finding jobs for mentally challenged adults one of our key training priorities. However, job skills training is offered only to residents who list employment as a goal he or she wants to achieve.
At Marbridge, Job Skills Training differs from what most families encounter in high school or other care communities, where a job coach accompanies the individual and stands by them all day. Our program trains residents to be independent employees.
For residents that have never had a job before, or who struggle with on-campus employment, Marbridge offers pre-vocational training in its large greenhouse. The objective of the training is to help residents connect effort with reward and facilitate skills needed to improve work-related behaviors. Residents meet three days a week for hands-on job training under a 1:5 teacher-to-student ratio. Residents in pre-vocational training receive a mock check each week, which they may cash for “Marbridge bucks” that can be spent at the “Job Store” set up in the greenhouse.
Once they master pre-vocational training, on-campus employment can provide a variety of additional training opportunities. It often serves as a step toward a community-based job, but residents may also choose to make campus employment a permanent option.
Marbridge maintains a sub-minimum wage certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor for its on-campus employment program. However, Marbridge does not utilize the “workshop” approach to employment where residents are required to sit and complete tedious work. Instead, residents do necessary work in dietary, laundry, landscaping and other areas of campus operations. Currently, 57 residents work in on-campus jobs.
Classroom instruction supports on-the-job training
Classroom job skills training complements on-the-job training, and many residents are groomed here for community employment once they have proven they can be responsible employees on campus. Even those who are employed in the community attend classes to keep their skill levels up.
In the classroom, residents work on skills such as how to interview. They learn what is socially appropriate on the job, including how to dress and how to handle different situations with bosses and co-workers.
When selecting employers in the community, we look for a safe environment, appropriate hours and a supportive management, and each resident employee must be able to function independently and safely in order to work in a community-based job.
Marbridge is fortunate to count 21 companies and more than 35 different locations as employment partners.