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Program for Disabled Says Job Placements Plummeted

Job placements have dropped dramatically for developmentally disabled adults enrolled in non-profit New Horizon’s supported employment program due to higher job competition and business downsizing. The job cuts for New Horizon’s program members have led the organization to call out for the help of larger businesses. The supported employment program helps place developmentally disabled adults in jobs at local companies and then provides the workers with employment coaches who provide support on the work site. However, the program has taken its worst hit in recent years with job placements down by about 40 to 50 percent in 2010 compared to the year before when jobs were only down by about 10 to 15 percent, said Anna Eskandarian, the program’s director. “During this recession, our people are just competing with overqualified people,” she said. “That makes our placement much harder. Everybody is looking for a job.” Beside that challenge, Eskandarian said her organization is seeing more partner employers cutting staff levels. “Mostly it happened because businesses go out of business (or) they reduce the number of employers because of the bad economy,” she said. The job declines occurred even as the program secured about 10 percent more employer partners in 2010 with its 118 partners. The partners range from small businesses to large, with grocery stores, law firms, schools and many other employers participating. To help remedy the problem, the organization’s job development coordinators are focusing their efforts to recruit larger employers like Vons and Food 4 Less, which the organization has partnered with in the past. “With big organizations, there is more opportunity that if they have different branches, (and) they can hire more people in different cities in different areas,” Eskandarian said. “So, we can just build up better relationships with big businesses. … We really need our community to help us.” Currently, the program’s coordinators send out flyers and setup meeting with human resources and district managers in order to build relationships with businesses and keep track of future employment opportunities. The organization is also continuing to work with those on the job placement waiting list to help them prepare for future employment, Eskandarian said.

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