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State working to provide job opportunities to students with disabilities

EAGAN, Minn. — State leaders are working to make sure everyone who wants a job can find one.

On Friday, Minnesota reported the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 1.8% but leaders said there’s still a worker shortage in certain sectors and those with disabilities are an untapped workforce.

Monday, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove toured the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority site in Eagan to see how the buses are cleaned and detailed thanks to the help of students with disabilities.

The unique partnership between MVTA, the Vocation and Rehabilitation Services, Schmitty & Sons — a local family-owned and operated bus company — and the Great Work Program nonprofit helps pair local employers with students with disabilities.

The students are either in their last year of high school or recent graduates. They are trained and work 40 hours a week and get paid $16 per hour for their hard work.

Students like Stefen Evers and Asher Tholl said this gives them a lot of life skills and potentially a pathway to their future careers.

“Cleaning buses has been a passion of mine and an unfilled dream of mine,” said Evers.

“My parents are veterinarians,” said Tholl. “Like a lot of businesses, the veterinary area has been dealing with worker shortages so I would be able to do all the janitor work so his employees can focus on more pressing matters.”

In Minnesota more than 600,000 people have reported having at least one disability, but Grove said they are ready and willing to work. He added people with disabilities are hard workers, they’re very loyal and very good problem solvers.

Source: CBS Minnesota

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