Alabama’s Ready-to-Work (RTW) program provides a career pathway for adults who have limited education and employment experience through 66 sites at 22 institutions.
One of those sites – E.H. Gentry in Talladega – is now fully accessible and operational, representing the culmination of a two-year partnership between ADRS, Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT), and the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB).
The RTW curriculum is designed by AIDT to build skills based on demands of local businesses and industries along with a nationwide growth in technology, computer knowledge, and employment availability. In addition to soft skills, other areas of focus for RTW trainees include computer skills, workplace behavior, manufacturing, job acquisition, leadership, and problem solving.
“Because Gentry is already a full-service education and rehabilitation facility for people who are deaf and blind, it was the most logical place to house the Ready-to-Work program,” said VR-Blind and Deaf Services Assistant Commissioner Curtis Glisson. “Gentry converted to RTW as a standard curriculum, but there were some issues getting some of the program materials Braille- and JAWS-ready.”
ADRS Statewide Accessibility Specialist Jason Martin was tasked with adapting the current RTW curriculum for use at Gentry. Glisson said that modifications to the curriculum will be used at other RTW sites, but Gentry would remain the only completely accessible site in the state.
“Ready-to-Work is exciting for a number of reasons,” said Rehabilitation Specialist Denise Holmes. “What it all boils down to, though, is that it is going to help our consumers become more marketable in the workplace, and ultimately help them get better and higher-paying jobs.”
Individuals who successfully complete the RTW program earn an Alabama Certified Worker (ACW) certificate and a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC).
Glisson said RTW is a “big deal” and great response to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
The landmark WIOA legislation is designed to strengthen and improve our nation’s public workforce system and help get Americans into high-quality jobs and careers and help employers hire and retain skilled workers.
“Using the same curriculum at Gentry that is used at other community colleges is huge,” said Glisson. “It’s an equalizer and levels the playing field, so send us your people.”