OUCARES’ Pre-Employment Skills Training program wins regional award
The Oakland University Center for Autism Outreach Services (OUCARES) has received an Engagement Award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association(UPCEA), the leading organization of its kind in the world.
The UPCEA recognized OUCARES for its Pre-Employment Skills Training Program, which helps adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) succeed in the job market. The award focuses specifically on programs that foster mutually-beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources, and that result in a measurable and sustainable shared impact in areas such as economic development, community development, workforce training or capacity building.
The Pre-Employment Skills Training Program has been building a successful track record since it started in 2016. Of the 53 participants who have completed the training, more than 63 percent were able to find new employment or get promoted in their current position within three months, or were motivated to go back to school to advance their professional goals.
Joshua Alfonso, an adult with ASD who went through the training, shared that “I would not be able to get a job without OUCARES. I tried a lot and never had a job.”
Joshua has now successfully maintained employment since February 2018, and is extremely proud of this accomplishment. Joshua’s father, Domenick Alfonso, provided a letter of support to the UPCEA, detailing his son’s journey toward employment and how OUCARES’ Pre-Employment Skills Training has helped along the way.
He wrote, “OUCARES focused on the total Joshua, instructed him of the correct posture and appearance when looking for a job, how to select a career he would enjoy, what to say when spoken to, and how to say it.”
In addition, many employers who have partnered with the Pre-Employment Skills Training program say the experience has had a positive impact on them. In a letter to the UPCEA, representatives from Fifth Third Bank described how their experiences in the program have provided insight into the valuable traits and skills adults with ASD can bring to the workforce, including honesty, punctuality and advanced knowledge of a specific area of interest.
“Our partnership with OUCARES has allowed us to work toward Fifth Third’s strategic initiatives and core values of respect and inclusion,” their letter states. “Without OUCARES’ Pre-Employment Skills Training, we would never have had the opportunity to work with people with autism in the way we do now.”
OUCARES works with several employers, as well as local government, to assist program participants. Fifth Third Bank human resources associates conduct mock interviews and provide feedback to participants; Engineers from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles facilitate teamwork and problem-solving activities; and representatives from the City of Rochester Hills’ Mayor’s Office share information about working in government and how to get involved in civic activities. Additionally, OUCARES has developed a strong relationship with Michigan Rehabilitation Services to connect participants with government agencies that can provide additional employment-specific resources.
The Engagement Award is part of the UPCEA’s Celebration of Excellence Program, which recognizes an outstanding partnership between a member institution and one or more external constituents such as local communities, corporations, government organizations or associations.
OUCARES won the Engagement Award for the UPCEA’s Central Region and was honored with other awardees at this year’s regional conference from September 26-28 in St. Louis.
To learn more about OUCARES' programs and services, visit oakland.edu/oucares.