November 12, 2019

Governor Parson Recognizes National Apprenticeship Week, Commends Missouri’s Second in Nation Ranking for Apprenticeships

Signs Executive Order Creating Office of Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning

(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) – At today’s Apprenticeship Missouri Summit in Columbia, Governor Mike Parson recognized National Apprenticeship Week and commended Missouri’s second in the nation ranking for new and completed apprenticeships. 

To view the full press release, please click here

[Pictured: Governor Parson signing Executive Order alongside Commissioner of Higher Education, Zora Mulligan ]

  • Blind Students Gain Employability Skills at First-Ever 3D Kit Build Print Weekend at BSBP's Training Center in Kalamazoo

    Blind Students Gain Employability Skills at First-Ever 3D Kit Build Print Weekend at BSBP's Training Center in Kalamazoo

    Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280


    September 13, 2018 - “I can print that!” This past weekend in Kalamazoo 11 blind and visually impaired students were visualizing in 3D using models printed from 3D printers that each student assembled from a kit....

    Click here to read the rest of the story!

  • Reflections on the 2018 NET Summit - A VR Workforce Studio Special

    Didn't get to attend the first annual NET Summit, 2018? Then listen to Dr. Kurt Sprenger's takeaways from his participation in Detroit, Michigan where we met at General Motors headquarters and breakout sessions the following morning.



    Summit reflections include-WIOA Measures, Business Engagement-Pipeline approaches, Vision 2020 and more. Click the link above to listen, or view the transcript of this very special VR Workforce studio podcast! We look forward to next year's summit to being even bigger and better than the first. Stay tuned for future updates on the National Employment Team by following us on Facebook and Twitter.  Also stay up to date on the VR Workforce studio podcast by following Rick Sizemore.

  • VR Profiles of Success: Renee Jewell with Indiana Voc Rehab

    As a former recipient of VR services, and now in my role as a VR counselor, I have had the marvelous opportunity to witness first-hand the tremendous positive impact VR has made in my own life, and in the lives of the consumers VR staff serves each day. Kathy Ashley, who passed away in 2014, was my first VR counselor. She embodied all the qualities of what I consider to be an excellent VR counselor. She was warm, genuine, caring, creative, and a big believer in people’s potential. Her shining example is one I try to live up to each day in my own practice as a VR counselor. When Kathy and I met, I was a hostess at MCL Cafeteria, making minimum wage. Kathy observed I could not see well, and on one of her lunchtime visits asked me if I would be interested in owning my own business in a program especially designed for individuals who were legally blind.


    Well, of course I was! I applied for VR services, received training on how to operate a vending business, and was a vendor in the BEP program for 17 years. Owning my own business provided me with financial stability and confidence in myself. However, business ownership had its own share of challenges, and I had a dream to one day help people who lost their vision live up to their own potential.


    So back to VR I went in 2009. I explained to my VR counselor at the time that although I had been blessed for many years with a successful business, times had changed, and it was difficult physically to keep up with the demands of the day-to-day operations. In addition, I had reached a point in the program where there was really no further opportunity for upward mobility. My VR counselor at the time patiently listened, and asked me what my future goals were for employment. I shared with her that I wanted to work as a counselor with people who were blind and visually impaired. She believed in me, and we developed a plan for me to get the necessary education to work in social services.


    Little did I know at the time that I would one day be a VR counselor!


    In the spring of 2014 I was set to graduate from the MSW program at IUPUI, and was working with an Employment Consultant at BOSMA to explore my job options. On April 10th, I got the news I had Stage 3 breast cancer, treatment would start immediately, be aggressive, and there were no guarantees about the outcome. I had a heart to heart with my VR counselor Renea Semones, and we discussed if it might make sense to put my job search on-hold. I ended up deciding to plow ahead by walking across the stage to get my MSW that May, and then continue looking for a job. I had worked too hard and come too far to just stop. I decided that cancer just would have to come along for the ride in the pursuit of my goals and plans.


    Melanie Wells, the Manager of BOSMA’s employment services at the time asked me if I would be interested in applying for a position as a VR counselor. She said I met the qualifications, and that the job was a good fit for my skills and interests. I did indeed apply, and was invited for an interview. Steve Upchurch, who was an Area Supervisor at the time, interviewed me, and told me that the position was for a specialist who worked with blind and visually impaired consumers. Needless to say I was excited! Steve did not bat an eye when I told him I was going through cancer treatment. He told me about the job, and asked me about my skills and abilities, choosing to focus on what I could bring to the organization, and not my limitations. I then interviewed with a panel of VR employees in Steve’s office, and felt like I was right at home. I jumped for joy when I was offered the position! VR made accommodations so I could get my cancer treatments, and the assistive technologies I required to do my job.


    I have now been a VR counselor for almost 3 years, and thoroughly enjoy the work I do on behalf of people with disabilities. I am also happy to report I am cancer free! Yes, being a VR counselor is demanding and challenging, but is also extremely rewarding! I have the privilege of helping empower consumers to overcome their own challenges so they can live independently and work in fulfilling jobs in their communities. I experience a great sense of gratification and pride each day by getting to be a small part of the tremendous life-changing outcomes that I see with the consumers VR serves.


    ~ Submitted by Renee Jewell, VR Counselor

  • VR Profiles of Success: Andrew San Nicolas

    Today we would like to feature the profile of an accomplished individual with nearly 15 years of hard work to his name: Andrew San Nicolas. He has been working at the Hyatt Regency Saipan since 2006 and is a model employee. 

    Name:  Andrew San Nicolas


    Employer: Hyatt Regency Saipan


    Employment Dates:  11/2003 through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Workforce Investment Agency (Laundry Services)


    Hired: 4/2006 to Current Job (Club Elan)


    VR Services Include: Counseling & Guidance, Transportation, Job Placement Assistance, Job Readiness Training and Job Search Assistance.

    “I love my job at Hyatt because everybody makes me happy. “

           Andrew San Nicolas

                   June 29, 2018


    “Andrew is an exceptional employee in many sense of the word.  His attendance is exceptional, his work is meticulous and he doesn’t complain about anything.  He enjoys and attends all employee events and makes work at Hyatt a part of his life.  Andrew is the type of employee that worries about not being at work or not being in compliance such as his grooming and uniform standard.  His tasks get done and he takes care of the equipment he uses to do his work.”

    Josephine Mesta, HR Director, Hyatt Regency-Saipan

    June 29, 2018

  • Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Partners with Microsoft Imagine Academy

    Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center consumers can now earn Microsoft certifications on campus, taking with them well-recognized industry credentials when they graduate and seek employment.  WWRC began offering the curriculum earlier this year in its Business/Information Technology vocational training track through the Microsoft Imagine Academy. To earn the Microsoft Office Specialist credential, students must master Office productivity software, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. The Microsoft Technology Associate certification focuses on security and cloud fundamentals, mobility and devices, networking and databases.  “These industry-recognized credentials make students a lot more marketable and the Microsoft name enhances their resumes,” said James Hall, WWRC director of career and workforce development division.  Many businesses use Microsoft software, so graduates who earn the certifications can compete for jobs in general office administration or IT departments. “Our goal is to have every Business and Information Technology student earn one of the credentials,” Hall said.Zachary Fuchs is the first WWRC student to earn Microsoft certification. He passed the MTA module in security fundamentals only a few weeks after it was introduced. Zach completed the Computer Support Specialist program in 11 months and graduates in June 2018. He also studied CompTIA IT fundamentals and hopes to achieve other credentials such as A+ and Security+ while working.  “It gives me a baseline knowledge of Microsoft security and opens opportunities for entry-level IT support jobs,” Zach said.  To launch the Microsoft certification program, WWRC instructors were trained as Microsoft Certified Educators. Staff teach the MOS unit in a business class while the center’s computer instructors cover the MTA modules.Learn more about WWRC’s Business/Information Technology program here.   The MIA and WWRC partnership was facilitated by Kathy West-Evans of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation in conjunction with disABLEDperson, Inc.

  • Chicago Tribune and Washington Post Highlight VR Successes

    It seems that there is an abundance of interest in Vocational Rehabilitation success stories making national news of late. Both the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post published articles highlighting NET Business Partners Kwik Star and Dee Zee along with showing their strong partnership with Iowa VR services. Congratulations to these rock star employees and VR staff members! 

    Chicago Tribune Article

    Washington Post Article

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