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  • An Overlooked Source for Dependable Employees

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    I’d not be a very good Chamber Executive if I kept problem-solving information for businesses from them. Nor would I be a good person if I did not try and help good people in our community help fill a big need in there lives and those of their adult children.  I’ve found a lot of life is solving problems and finding those Win-Win ideas is good for good people.
    With that in mind, every business I know cannot find enough good people to come to work for them.  And that talent drought runs from the C-Suite, certainly skilled jobs down to entry level.  Many people today, reportedly younger workers just don’t want to work, or show up consistently.  One prominent employer told me they are offering well-over minimum wage and still cannot attract people who are serious about wanting to work, especially entry-level workers. 
    I recently was invited to a lunch meeting of local parents whose children range in age from 22 to 30.  Many of these young adults cannot find work. Like anyone, work will give them purpose and greatly enhance their self-worth. These parents are dedicated and will do anything they can to insure their children work diligently to the best of their abilities.
    Many employers may have missed this group of young workers.  Because their abilities are limited by their disabilities.  These young folks are eager to work and very loyal, dedicated, many have great powers of focus and as a group do not mind doing work other people turn their nose-up today.  One young woman worked for a local restaurant for several years before it closed and then was hired by another restaurant. Her former employer told her mother the if she wanted the bathroom cleaned thoroughly she sent her daughter in to do it right. Others young people have talents perfect for detailed work, maybe in quality control.  And as a group they love to work, and they aren’t watching the clock for quitting time, in fact most want to work longer!  It is a population that enjoys the feeling they get by doing something, and something others appreciate.
    The beautiful Broad-leafed Sycamore trees on School Street are perhaps the messiest tree I’ve ever seen.  And when you have about a hundred of them in a row together they make a very big mess.  And events on the same street generate a lot of trash.  If it were not for the good folks of United Cerebral Palsy our School Street would not have the appearance it does.  The UCP crew is there before seven every morning, in all kinds of weather, sweeping, picking-up liter, emptying garbage receptacles never complaining, rarely looking up. 
    Each of them is on a spectrum determining the severity of their mental deficiency, but that has not hindered their ability to do this work and do it well.  They are dependable, focused and hard workers.  The workers and attitudes any business owner want in an employee.  If you should see them, please say “Thank you,” and tell them they are doing a good job.  Some look up and respond with a smile and say thanks back.  While over the last four years and many such interactions I’ve had with one young man, he says Thank You back to me but never looks up always sweeping.  
    So how does an employer deal with the liabilities and how does an employer match a job to a person with special needs and their abilities?  Enos Edmerson Jr. is an Employment Specialist with Valley Mountain Regional Center. Enos’s job is to help businesses answer those questions and make workable matches for persons with disabilities and employer.  
    Are there success stories?  By the tons!  Walgreens claims hiring from this group of special needs young people has improved their bottom line.  Other companies have hired for sensitive positions staffing with people on the “high-functioning” end of the autism spectrum.  Because of the tight labor market employers are hiring more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
    Some labor markets have seen double digit growth between 2011-2016 in the hiring of young people with cognitive disabilities.  Because the labor market has only gotten tighter and will continue to tighten for the foreseeable future, these young workers should see employers giving them a trial job.  Because more employers realize they should investigate this over-looked labor pool.
    The mothers I had lunch with, each with a son or daughter now a young-adult with cognitive challenges, and each one believe their adult child will make some local business-owner a valuable employee.  These dedicated parents will make sure the kids are on time and ready to work.  Like any parent they want the best for there child. And for them it is the deep satisfaction in seeing that their child can make it in the world, realizing their worth, value and self-respect.  Work is a great opportunity to find these values.  
    It is sad to think many able-minded people choose to stay home and live off government support rather than work, while the young people want to work.  It is why by comparison those with disabilities stay longer, rarely miss a day, and retention of these employees is higher than those without disabilities. 
    Mr. and Ms. Business Owner or HR Director, I hope you will give them a chance.  This group of young adults will be working for much more than a paycheck, they are looking to fulfill their goals, find purpose and meaning in their life…and these values just may make them a great hire for you.


    Pat Patrick
    President & CEO
    Lodi District Chamber of Commerce

    Get More Actionable Information:
    SHINE (Lodi Support Group of special needs young adults)
    SHINE is holding an informational meeting for employers, as well as 
    for families of special needs children.  The meeting will be 
    Thursday, August 16th6:00 to 7:30 PM at 267 N. Mills Lodi First Baptist Church.
    Questions about SHINE or for more information in this article: Call Rosemary 209 339 6765 
    or Grace 209 642 2463.
    Contact for: Enos Edmerson Jr. at: eedmerson@vmrc.netor 209-478-3539 
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