On-the-Job Training Leads to Success

Michael Sawyer photo

Spring Hill, FL On any given day you may find Michael Sawyer peeling, slicing or breading eggplant, folding or stamping boxes, or performing any number of other jobs at Mr. G's Foods. What you can count on is that Michael will be there early, work hard, and stay focused until the job is done the kind of employee managers dream about. What you may not know about Michael is that he has autism but that doesn't slow him down.

A recent graduate of Vocational Rehabilitation's (VR) On-the-Job Training program, Michael made such a lasting impression that he was hired as a baker after he completed his training. "Michael is an excellent worker," says Gerard Guarino, owner of Mr. G's Foods. "He shows up 15 minutes before he is supposed to be here. And once he punches that clock, he goes straight to work. I often tell my manager, if I had 10 Michael's, I would be happy."

Over the last year, Mr. G's Foods has provided On-the-Job Training to four people with disabilities, hiring two of them. With the On-the-Job Training program, VR reimburses employers for the trainee's salary, any training costs, and any accommodations needed. It's a win-win situation for both the business owner and the employee.

Michael found his way to Mr. G's Foods with help of VR counselor Jose Sostre and Employment Specialist Sandra Nicoll. They thought Michael would be a good candidate for On-the-Job Training because of his eagerness to learn. "Michael's motivation and willingness to succeed were the major factors in his story," says Jose.

Michael enjoys working and always tries to do his best. And just why does Michael work so hard at his job? "So I can get more done," he says simply.

Michael's father Edgar is pleased with how well VR worked with Michael. "I think it was good that they could match the level he is operating at with the proper job. They found some really good people for him to work with."

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.