On-the-Job Training - A 'Win-Win' Business Strategy

Russell Bailey photo

Zephyrhills, FL Russell Bailey's physical and mental disabilities made it difficult to find and keep a job. He was unemployed and living at Lighthouse Ministries when he learned from an acquaintance about Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). That's when things started to looking up.

Russell met with VR Counselor Louise (Winnie) Burke who provided him guidance and counseling and set him on his new path. She paired him with Employment Specialist Sandra Nicoll, who decided Russell would be a perfect candidate for VR's On-the-Job Training program. With the On-the-Job Training program, VR reimburses employers for the trainee's salary, training costs, and any accommodations needed. It's a win-win situation for both the business owner and the employee.

Russell told Sandra he always liked working with his hands and had worked in boat repair earlier in his career. He was interested in becoming an auto mechanic. Sandra helped Russell write his resume and start his job search. After a thorough interview, Russell landed a job at Jarrett Ford Collision Center as an auto mechanic trainee. Russell is currently completing a six-month On-the-Job Training with Jarrett Ford where he is learning the many different areas of collision repair. VR paid for his uniform, boots and tools, and is paying his salary as he trains for his new career. Russell couldn't be happier.

David Smith, Russell's supervisor, is also pleased and speaks highly of him. "Russell's doing a good job. He's learning the new equipment and working towards full certification in auto repair. We've been very happy with him and his work ethic."

David recommends VR's On-the-Job Training program to other employers. "So far, it's worked out great and we haven't had any issues," he says. "If Russell is an example of the type of person VR is rehabilitating, then I would most definitely hire another person through VR. You couldn't have a better candidate. His mindset is to learn everything and do a good job for the company and the customer. He wants the customer who owns the car to be happy. He wants me to be happy. He wants the company to make money. He wants to turn his life around, and from what I can see, he's going to do it."

Russell's experience with VR has been a positive one, and he can't say enough about the people who work there. "They're just awesome," he says of Winnie and Sandra. "We got along real well and whenever I had a question, they were right there. I'd recommend them to anyone."

Winnie and Sandra were very impressed by Russell's motivation and positive attitude. "He has overcome a lot of hardships in his life," says Winnie. "From the moment he walked through our door at VR, he has been determined to turn his life around and get back to work. He's been great to work with."

The future looks bright for Russell, whose goal is to become certified in all areas of auto repair so he can start moving up the company ladder. With David, Sandra, and Winnie's support and encouragement, Russell will have that opportunity at Jarrett Ford.

Florida's Vocational Rehabilitation program is committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America's workforce. Our employer-focused website, FLJobConnections.com, allows businesses to search at no charge for employees who are ready to go to work, as well as to post available jobs. VR has 111 offices across Florida, and last year helped 3,874 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit Rehabworks.org.