Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities in Healthcare: The Bristol Employment Collaborative

Sunday, January 1, 2012
Work cover
Aniko Laszlo, PHD
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Alexis Henry, ScD, OTR/L
Commonwealth Medicine
Jean Goldsberry
Bristol Employment Collaborative
Kimberly Lapine
Bristol Employment Collaborative

Unemployment is a significant problem among working-age adults with disabilities. The Bristol Employment Collaborative (BEC), one of five Regional Employment Collaboratives in Massachusetts, brings together State agencies, community employment service providers, educational institutions, local businesses, economic development organizations, and people with disabilities to design and implement regional strategies to enhance employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities. Launched in 2009, BEC has developed an innovative model to train people with disabilities to become personal assistance services workers, a healthcare occupation with high demand. The case study describes the strategic planning process undertaken by BEC partners to develop a certificate program to be offered by the local community college. The first class enrolled in September 2010 and graduated ten weeks later. Innovative approaches such as the one being pursued and developed by the BEC could help address both unemployment for people with disabilities and the labor shortages in the healthcare sector.