The spotlight shines on Huntsville for reeling in job growth, but what about employing those on the sidelines who are already here?
Huntsville Hospital is doing just that with its program for interns with developmental disabilities. The Alabama Labor Secretary just got a tour Monday.
Students with developmental disabilities who may not have ever thought they could have a career are starting ones or learning job skills. The hospital is adding efficient hands to the workforce.
The hospital’s cafeteria kitchen is one of ten places you might find morale to be up. That’s because it’s an internship site for Project SEARCH, where students from Huntsville City Schools are happy to come to work.
“A lot of our employees that have worked here for many, many years are now working alongside these young people who have developmental disabilities but are so excited to come to work every day,” said Andrea Rosler, the vice president of human resources.
For most of the young adults it’s their first job and they spend it in various parts of the hospital.
“This is my first year here but I’ve done three internships. I worked at the place called materials management where I delivered packages,” said Adam Eckenrode.
For some the program leads to employment right away.
“How does that feel to have a job right out of high school?” WZDX News asked La’Davion White-Moore.
“I was so excited,” White-Moore said.
What that comes down to is a well-oiled machine that reportedly employs the second largest number of people in the county.
“It’s so hard to find and keep qualified employees, particularly in entry-level jobs,” Rosler explained. “So the more that we can do to try to bring people who have normally been off the grid, they have not been in the workforce, if you can find jobs to bring people into the workforce that helps your labor pool.”
Rosler says more than half of the students who go through the program end up employed by the hospital. She says there are 15,000 people who work there and the young adults in the program are some of the best workers.
Huntsville City School students interested in the program should talk with their school counselors.