Pathways to Employment (PTE) Program is designed to support the pursuit of job opportunities for people with spinal cord injuries and disorders

United Spinal Association’s Pathways to Employment program works with members who are interested in obtaining a job, whether they have been out of the market for a long time or are just exploring if they can work. Toward this goal, the program also provides potential employers with trainings and information they can use to find qualified employees with disabilities.

“If you’re thinking of returning to work, no matter where you are, even 30 years post-injury, we can help,” says United Spinal Chief Operating Officer Abby Ross. Pathways to Employment is designed around the individual job seeker, providing a range of services from peer support to advice on how to keep benefits packages intact. The program has also helped people to save their jobs or remain in their vocation.

“There are a lot of people in interesting situations who contact us,” says Ross. “One guy was a bonsai master looking for work. He moved from one state to another and was able to find employment as a bonsai master in his new town.”

There are an amazing number of resources for both job seekers and potential employers available at unitedspinal.org/pathways-to-employment, including podcasts and videos as well as links to job sources that give preference to people with disabilities. One webinar provides a step-by-step guide through the interview process, including how to deal with interviewers who aren’t sure how to handle the applicant’s wheelchair. Other resources include guides to going back to work, requesting accommodations and writing résumés.

The Pathways to Employment web page also has a section of resources for potential employers that showcases some attributes people who’ve lived through life-changing events, such as acquiring an SCI/D, bring with them. These include the persistence to overcome obstacles, ingenuity and trouble-shooting skills to navigate challenges. Also, there are interviewer tips for employers and contact information for them to learn about the Pathways to Employment training program.

“Once companies hear about these options and opportunities, hiring a person with a disability doesn’t seem so difficult,” says Ross. “I’m so thrilled people are interested and reaching out for help.”

Join Pathways to Employment on October 29 at 2 p.m. ET for the first “Future of Work” webinar. This workplace inclusion event will focus on highlighting workplace solutions submitted by community members that solve barriers to work, workplace complications or the opportunity to advance into leadership positions. Please submit your workplace solution here and register for the event.