Focus on soft skills improves chance for employment success

Without question, 19-year-old Aurora Hobden said, she wants to land a job. The prospect both thrills and frightens her.

Will she be able to manage her emotions? Follow procedures? Multi-task?

“What might be hard is handling the pressure,” Hobden said. “Being able to know what you’re supposed to do and do it and maybe be good at it.”

Aurora Hobden, left, and Hunter Kleman take part in an exercise at Greenleaf Job Training Services. (Photo by Kyle Robertson for The Columbus Dispatch)
Aurora Hobden, left, and Hunter Kleman take part in an exercise at Greenleaf Job Training Services. (Photo by Kyle Robertson for The Columbus Dispatch)

The Upper Arlington resident is among thousands of Ohioans with developmental disabilities whose path to employment no longer leads — at least not automatically — to a spot in a sheltered workshop. State and federal policies that aim to sharply decrease reliance on programs considered “segregated” are steering more and more would-be workers to jobs in the community.

But that transition, no matter how welcome, can be overwhelming. Many of those seeking work spent years in special-education classes and programs where expectations were gentle and nontypical appearances and behaviors didn’t stand out.

“There are certain things that are accepted in those environments that won’t be in the community,” said Jessica Schollenberger, an instructor and job developer at Greenleaf Job Training Services in Clintonville. She’s helping Hobden and a handful of other young adults enrolled in a new class at Greenleaf that is designed to focus on the soft skills that often make or break job success for people with disabilities.

Read more in this article from The Columbus Dispatch.

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