Marienville, PA - The Department of Labor & Industry's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) Acting Executive Director Ryan Hyde today joined a celebration of a community garden renovation project at the Marienville Area Library completed by students with disabilities through OVR's MY Work Initiative and Professional Connection Experience (PCE) programs.
OVR assists Pennsylvanians with disabilities in obtaining and retaining employment while keeping their independence. This renovation project provided students a paid opportunity to gain transferable skills for employment while reinforcing the development of a skilled workforce equipped to meet economic challenges across the commonwealth.
"The completion of this garden represents the continued development of all students involved," Acting Executive Director Ryan Hyde said. "They can now take the skills they have learned and move on to new opportunities in their hometowns, strengthening the commonwealth's workforce. We at OVR are proud of them and thank all of our partners that helped make this possible."
The MY Work Initiative is a summer employment program created by OVR to provide high school students with disabilities the chance to work within their local municipalities. Piloted in nine municipalities throughout Allegheny County in 2016, the MY Work Initiative established a collaboration between OVR, local education agencies, local government, and non-profit organizations, providing paid work experiences for 50 high school students. This year, the MY Work Initiative expanded to 13 OVR district offices, providing paid work experiences to an estimated 400 students with disabilities across the commonwealth.
OVR covers the program's wages for all student workers, with no cost to the municipality. OVR has developed work readiness guidance that includes soft skills training and interview preparation to assist the participants in a variety of fields, including beautification projects, children's programming, and customer service.
The Professional Connection Experience (PCE) is a 60-hour program with almost 400 participants this year. The program offers high school students with disabilities training in workplace readiness and career exploration, with opportunities for job shadowing, mock interviews, workplace tours, and understanding employment documentation. Students who complete 54 of the 60 required training hours will receive a stipend, reimbursed to the provider through OVR.
For more information on the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation's programs, you can visit www.dli.pa.gov/ovr, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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