JoMorris Law and his sister, Virginia Law, were visiting the Jackson Career Center in Clarke County when they were interviewed by Career Center staff to determine if they met the requirements for the Work Based Learning (WBL) program. Both were food stamp recipients lacking work history living in a poor rural area (Coffeeville).
JoMorris had taken some night welding courses at Alabama Southern Community College, but was not interested in enrolling full-time in the welding program (Industrial Training Authority). His goal was to gain employment in the welding field. Virginia also was interested in gaining employment in a position working with others.
Both were scheduled to take the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE). TABE results indicated JoMorris was basic skills proficient, but Virginia was basic skills deficient. JoMorris was referred to Sheila Thompson, Business Services Representative, for possible WBL placement and Virginia was referred to the Alabama Southern Community College Adult Education Program. Since Alabama Southern Community College (ASCC) Adult Education, Coffeeville site, was closed for the Christmas holidays, staff gave Virginia math and reading remediation information for her to study on her own and then re take the TABE.
Ms. Thompson had been conducting meetings with several employers regarding WBL, with positive responses. Jackson Metalworks, Inc., a metal machine shop in Jackson, AL, was one of those employers, and the ideal worksite in light of JoMorris’s desire to enter the welding profession. Jackson Metalworks has been an excellent employer in the On the Job Training (OJT) program, and has trained and subsequently employed eight Machinists and Welders over the past two years. Several of these OJT participants have either been promoted to supervisory positions or offered jobs elsewhere making in excess of $25.00 per hour. Jackson Metalworks trains these participants and gives the work experience required by most industrial employers.
Ms. Thompson called Ricky Milstead, the owner of Jackson Metalworks, and asked if he would be interested in JoMorris for WBL. Jackson Metalworks already had one WBL participant. Mr. Milstead interviewed JoMorris and was impressed with his humble attitude and courteous nature. Mr. Milstead offered a WBL Internship to JoMorris in the position of a Machine Shop Attendant, and said if JoMorris showed interest, dependability and a good work ethic, he would then like to offer him OJT in the position of a Welder. JoMorris began his internship on November 19, 2015.
On December 4, 2015, Mr. Milstead told Ms. Thompson during a phone conversation that, in his opinion, JoMorris was a SUPERSTAR! Mr. Milstead said he was very pleased with JoMorris’s performance thus far and that he wished he had a dozen more like him. Throughout the internship, all follow-ups with the employer were positive in regards to JoMorris. Ms. Thompson relayed this to JoMorris and encouraged him to keep up the good work. She continued to remind him that performance during the internship would be the deciding factor in being offered an OJT contract upon completion of the 390 hours.
On January 21, 2016, at the request of the employer, a request was made and approval was given for Jackson Metalworks to train JoMorris in the positon of Welder. JoMorris was scheduled to complete the 390 hours of WBL on February 3, 2016. Ms. Thompson received a phone call from JoMorris at the end of his work day. “Ms. Sheila! I got the job! I just wanted to call and say thank you so much for giving me this opportunity.” JoMorris will be trained as a Welder at the hourly rate of $11.00.
JoMorris’s sister Virginia was retested, but still needed remediation. Because of the success of her brother JoMorris, a request was made to allow Virginia to be referred to Ms. Thompson for possible WBL placement.
Ms. Thompson contacted The Arc of Clarke County (TARCC), which is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to providing services and advocating for persons with intellectual disabilities in Clarke County, who had an open job order for a Life Coach. Virginia had expressed an interest in working with and helping people. Ms. Thompson contacted TARCC, who interviewed Virginia. Virginia began her work experience at TARCC Monday, January 25, 2016. At the end of her first day at work, Virginia came to the Career Center and reported that she loved it! Ms. Thompson met with Virginia’s supervisor following Virginia’s second day of work, who said Virginia that was doing a wonderful job and that she thought she was going to work out great!
Since placing Virginia at The ARC as a Life Coach, ASCC has opened an Adult Education site at the Career Center. Virginia has been referred and will work on her math and reading skills after she gets off of work on Mondays and Wednesdays.
The WBL program has been life changing for this family. JoMorris has gained full-time employment going from $7.25 per hour to $11.00 per hour with benefits. Virginia is still working as a WBL participant, and if things continue to go well, TARCC will employ Virginia full-time as a Life Coach making $8.00 an hour.