For Immediate Release - December 14, 2015

Individuals with Disabilities Graduate from nationally recognized workforce training program

More than 60 Individuals with Disabilities Graduate from Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission Workforce Training Program

BOSTON - Today, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) and private-sector partners held a graduation ceremony at the State House to honor more than 60 individuals with disabilities who successfully completed its nationally recognized Job-Driven Training Program.

Over the last year, MRC expanded its original training program piloted with CVS Health to include additional business partners such as Advanced Auto, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and the Home Depot. Business partners work in collaboration with MRC to develop and execute training curriculum to fill vacant business needs with qualified candidates willing to work.

"The companies who are working with the MRC have made a commitment to provide training opportunities for employers and individuals and others to come. Without partnerships and collaboration, we would not be having graduation today. To all of them I say thank you," said Adelaide "Nicky" Osborne, MRC Commissioner.

The MRC job training program also shows employers the value of a diverse workforce and how hiring individuals with disabilities restores independence for candidates, bolstering their work productivity. MRC’s public-private model is an award-winning strategy recognized, along with its partner Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, at the White House’s Champions of Change event in 2014 and by the Associated Industries of Massachusetts for its innovative Pharmacy Tech program with CVS Health.

“A year ago, I was feeling down and out, and alone, but I saw that I was not alone,” said Matt Houston, a CVS Health training graduate. “There are people willing to help by just ‘asking.’  Then, I realized I could do something about it myself.  You have to ‘do’ things to help yourself, and shoot a little bit higher. We all fall on hard times, but we can always overcome. Everyone is entitled to a meaningful existence.”

Today’s State House event recognized the commitment of MRC employer partners, and more significantly the dedication and hard work of the individuals with disabilities to complete the various training programs to prepare for a job interview and for becoming part of the workforce. Individuals train anywhere from two days up to eight weeks depending on available business needs and candidates skills.

"Our job training is a viable alternative,” said Kasper M. Goshgarian, MRC Deputy Commissioner. “Your employers who trained you and hired you understood early on that there must be a better way of filling key vacancies. They partnered with MRC to provide opportunity. You are the beneficiary of that partnership. More importantly, your employers and their customers are the beneficiaries of your talent."

Many of the nearly 65 graduates are present for today’s graduation ceremony; however, a few were unable to attend because they were doing exactly as the program intended - working. Representatives from the four companies along with Joan Phillips, MRC Assistant Commissioner, and William Allen, Director of MRC Statewide Job Placement Services, awarded graduates their certificates of completion before their peers, family, and friends in the packed Hall of Flags.

Rick Laferriere, lead manager of Workforce Initiatives at CVS Health, ended the event by urging everyone in the room, including local business partners and MRC staff, to continue to growth this program.
“The Job-Driven Training Program you have all completed is meant to prepare you for a job with the employer that you are potentially going to work for,” said Laferriere. “It is not all just about that employer, but preparing you for the world of work. I hope that when we attend these training graduations down the road and into 2016, that we will have double the employers and graduates and we can celebrate what can be a growing trend with MRC and workforce development.”

The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission promotes equality, empowerment and independence of individuals with disabilities. These goals are achieved through enhancing and encouraging personal choice and the right to succeed or fail in the pursuit of independence and employment in the community. The MRC provides comprehensive services to people with disabilities that maximize their quality of life and economic self-sufficiency in the community. The Commission’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) division assists individuals with disabilities return to work and helps local businesses find qualified workers.