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South Florida programs aim to make workplace more inclusive

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 4:51 PM EDT
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Programs across South Florida are joining the push to make the workplace more inclusive.

The unemployment rate in Palm Beach County has dropped to a record low 2.6%, but the number of job openings continues to grow.

There are a variety of options to bridge that divide by giving students with learning disabilities the skillset to do so.

A day in the classroom at Southtech Academy in Boynton Beach comes with a wide variety of demonstrations, especially in the medical science courses.

It’s part of Southtech’s transition program. Students with learning disabilities who’ve graduated from high school can get additional to enter college or land a job.

"We need more time to analyze things and we get the time we need to finish it and take our time and to better understand it for us," said Stacy Cesar, a Southtech student.

Cesar is learning at a pace that gives her the ability to grasp complex concepts and just became a certified nursing assistant through the academy. It was a dream she once never thought possible. Now her sights are set on becoming a cardiologist.

"It could be a possibility," Cesar said. "I just like the heart because it’s very interesting to me. It makes me excited that I'm going to continue that education to do better."

In Boca Raton, the Unicorn Children's Foundation offers family support to those with developmental differences, including a hands-on job training program where students learn the skills needed to run a coffee shop and potentially become an entrepreneur.

Programs that help students with learning disabilities transition into the workplace are bridging a challenging divide.

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, one in five Americans live with a learning disability or attention differences, and it could affect their livelihood.

Only 46% of working-age adults with learning disabilities are employed. Those with learning disabilities are also enrolling in four-year colleges at half the rate of their peers.

Programs that focus on job training and development can make a difference.

"Being able to see all the accomplishments that I could do and do all the certifications I've gotten so far and knowing that putting in the hard work pays off at the end of everything," Cesar said.

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