A vocational program to help prepare adults with disabilities for jobs in office services launched this week as part of a collaboration between Canon Solutions America Inc. and the Viscardi Center.
The new program will prepare participants for administrative positions in professional office environments through educational sessions and hands-on training in a new state-of-the-art print center unveiled Thursday at Viscardi in Albertson.
“This is a really wonderful partnership, and we’re grateful,” said John D. Kemp, president and CEO at the Viscardi Center, a network of nonprofits that provides services to those with disabilities. “This sets people on a career path that we hope they’ll keep climbing.”
He said it's often hard for those with disabilities to find work. “The numbers aren’t good for people with disabilities,” which makes programs like this essential, he added.
In 2018, the unemployment rate for people with a disability was 8 percent, compared to 3.7 percent for those with no disability, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The joint venture's goal is for these individuals to acquire the skills they need to find gainful employment. Canon Solutions America, of Melville, a subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., will provide a national team of subject matter experts, up to six per session, to work with a vocational training team from Abilities Inc. at the Viscardi Center.
Canon also provided the equipment in the new print center, which is accessible to those with disabilities.
“We are so proud to be working with the Viscardi Center on this important program,” said Peter Kowalczuk, president of Canon Solutions America.
Training will take place in areas such as reception services, mail services, light print production and print fleet management. “It provides them with life skills that can translate into any business,” said John R. Reilly, senior vice president of global managed services at Canon Solutions America, noting Canon and the Viscardi Center’s relationship goes back several years.
Each session runs five weeks, according to Colleen Crispino, Viscardi’s chief program officer. The program will be starting with four trainees for its first session. For this year, organizers hope to train up to nine people per session and to offer four sessions.
“The program is providing me with the skills I need to help me personally and professionally,” said one trainee, Igor Teixeira, 25, of Mineola.
Lisa Chung, director of talent acquisition and diversity for Canon U.S.A., said if positions open up at Canon, it could result in job opportunities for the program's trainees, although they could find work at any company that might need their services.
Canon Solutions America has more than 700 employees who work at client sites across the United States, said Reilly. The Viscardi Center places about 180 people with disabilities with employers each year.