Course helps individuals prepare for work force

Course helps individuals prepare for work force

DANVILLE – Walking across the Danville Area Community College campus, someone asked 19-year-old Michael Spitz how to get to the Mary Miller complex.

Spitz knew exactly where to direct them. Just seven weeks ago, he wouldn't have known.

That moment helped prove to Spitz, of Georgetown, that he could take post-secondary classes at DACC. It's also proof for WorkSource and DACC officials that it was a good idea to join forces and offer a seven-week pre-employment skills course on campus for individuals with disabilities. Spitz and four others just completed the course.

Linda Jones, an employment specialist with WorkSource, said people with disabilities can learn the skills necessary to get jobs on their own and keep jobs on their own. WorkSource, a not-for-profit agency that provides work opportunities for the disabled and others, has been offering the pre-employment skills course at its North Vermilion Street location until this fall.

Moving the course to the college campus, said DACC President Alice Jacobs, gives the students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the college and motivate them to take post-secondary courses vital to getting and maintaining a job.

"We all know that some post-secondary education is critical for continuing to be qualified for jobs in the future," she said.

In the seven-week course, which ended last week with a certificate ceremony, Spitz and several other students learned how to build a resume, how to look for a job and how to keep a job.

Jones said they discuss anger management – having the right attitude toward the job even on the bad days. She said Spitz has matured and gained confidence during the course and has adjusted to the college campus well. So well, he's going to take three more college classes – algebra, reading skills and success.

Spitz said he's met many people at DACC and also learned to ride the city bus to the class.

Of the five students who finished the course, one already has a job in the community, two are looking for jobs and two others, including Spitz, are going to continue taking classes.

Spitz said he loves information gathering and would like to be a fact finder.

"I love reading dictionaries and encyclopedias," said Spitz, who will add his course certificate to his portfolio, which he can present along with his resume to an employer and show that he has proven job skills.

Some students in the course have a high school diploma or GED, but some don't. Some students with disabilities may not be able to obtain either but can still maintain a job in the community, she said. Taking the pre-employment skills course, and additional DACC courses, will help them get a job and retain one, she said, and it helps them to have a certificate to present a potential employer, showing that they have some skills.

Jones said they want to increase enrollment in the course to 10 students.

Spitz loves having his certificate and enjoyed the ceremony where he and his fellow students were presented the certificates.

"It made me feel proud of myself," he said.

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