New Missouri apprenticeship program looks to provide more help to those with disabilities

New Apprenticeship Program looks to aid people with disabilities
New Apprenticeship Program looks to aid people with disabilities(WGEM)
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 5:58 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - The Missouri Department of Mental Health is launching an apprenticeship program for companies looking to train people to become direct support professionals.

Officials at Learning Opportunities Quality Works in Hannibal said direct support professionals are a pair of helping hands for their clients, assisting them with with tasks like working out or cooking until they are able to do them on their own.

Employment consultant Rhian Beldon said they have 40 direct support personnel who can work with anywhere between 300-350 clients.

He said the the apprenticeship program would allow them to give those interested on-the-job and classroom training all while collecting a paycheck.

“It’s to get the people the amount of hours that they need and deserve because you don’t have the staff to fill it or you have staff who are, again, stretched very thin,” Beldon said. “So this will be a great opportunity to hire quality staff who are trained and that can help fill that need and then it lets our organization take on more clients.”

Director of Human Services Kaci Reynolds said when they get their apprenticeship program up and running, it would provide people with 2000 hours of on-the-job training and 169 hours of classroom work.

She said it’s a challenge to recruit people to the profession, as sticking points can be pay and a a lack of knowledge on what the profession entails.

“When people hear of LOQW they may not know what all that entails,” Reynolds said. “They might have preconceived notions that aren’t correct,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said this can help people understand the profession and be a great way to retain workers.

Learning Opportunities officials said they are still working on their curriculum and content for the apprenticeship, they hope to have it ready by the summer. Those interested or wanting to know more can call (573) 735-4282.

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