IMG_0073By Dr. Lonny Wright, Dean of Education and Training for PRIDE Ascend Finding, developing and retaining quality employees is no easy task. This is especially true for employers who are committed to hiring people with disabilities. PRIDE Industries, one of the largest employers of people with disabilities in the country, knows firsthand some of these challenges. However, along with the challenges come incredible opportunities to find more adaptive and innovative approaches to recruiting the right talent. As dean of education and training for PRIDE’s new career school opening this Monday, PRIDE Ascend, I am excited about the incredible opportunities that lie ahead with respect to leveraging existing career pathway programs that promote economic self-sufficiency and create jobs for people with disabilities. If we empower people with disabilities through training and skills development, then we can and will resolve the growing skills gap across the country. At PRIDE Ascend, we address the limited educational opportunities available for people with disabilities. Through a series of apprenticeship-type courses, candidates receive training from craft professionals, as well as internships, externships and job placement assistance upon program completion. PRIDE Ascend’s curriculum prepares students for careers in facility maintenance or construction with training standards that meet the accreditation requirements established by NCCER. Students who successfully complete the curriculum will earn NCCER’s industry-recognized credentials to help put them on a path to employment and self-sufficiency. IMG_0075PRIDE Ascend also addresses many compliance requirements and community needs. For example, our program works in concert with the Workforce Investment Act and the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act and meets vocational rehabilitation efforts that stipulate creating state plans directed toward new entrants into the workforce who have disabilities or fall within the underserved population. It also ensures compliance with federal mandates that state training be linked to an in-demand industry or occupation that leads to economic self-sufficiency and encourages the attainment of postsecondary credentials. In addition, PRIDE Ascend offers resources that can assist in hiring, retaining and advancing people with disabilities. I cannot stress enough the importance of expanding our thinking about the potential of people with disabilities and the career paths we can provide them by building meaningful partnerships. PRIDE Ascend was built on the premise that all people with disabilities can succeed. Let’s work together to show that disability only means diversity. Feel free to contact me directly at lonny.wright@prideindustries.com with your thoughts and questions. I would love to hear from you and how we can continue to build our partnership base in support of creating jobs for people with disabilities.

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About NCCER

NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.