The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) announces the kickoff of this year’s Summer Earn and Learn (SEAL) program for students with disabilities aged 14-22. Through work-based learning, youth earn a paycheck while learning new skills and gaining professional experience. Employers participating in SEAL benefit from the addition of engaged and enthusiastic team members.
SEAL, a partnership between TWC, Workforce Solutions Boards and Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services (TWS-VRS), works with local employers who partner to create meaningful work opportunities. Students participating in SEAL attend work readiness training to prepare them for successful employment. During their work-based learning, students earn a paycheck while acquiring new skills and professional experiences.
“The Texas economy is stronger when all Texans contribute to its success,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel. “The Summer Earn and Learn program opens up a new talent pool for Texas employers trying to keep up with labor demands as our economy continues to grow.”
This past summer, Cassidy, a student who is deaf, gained work experience and improved her communication skills while earning a paycheck with CVS Health, a partner in Goodwill’s SEAL in Tarrant County. With the support of her job coach and a sign language interpreter, Cassidy felt welcomed at her job and her confidence grew as a result.
“I was excited and nervous, but I knew that I would rather have a job than do nothing over the summer,” said Cassidy. “I walk the aisles and when I see things in the wrong place, I pick them up and I find out where they belong. I have a scanner that I use that tells me where to put it in the right place. Sometimes, it’s tough to communicate with people and I tend to get tired pretty easily, but having interpreters here really helps with the communication barriers that I experience. CVS is a good start to my experience with work, because I enjoy what I do here.”
Watch Cassidy’s story here.
“Summer Earn and Learn provides students with disabilities the opportunity to learn and take on responsibilities associated with careers they might choose for their future,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “This program helps students return to school with positive work experiences, meaningful skill sets, and confidence that they can pursue their career goals.”
The SEAL program has grown to nearly 1,100 worksites, which have included a variety of both private and public sector employers, such as Typhoon Texas in Houston, Kalahari Resort in Round Rock, the City of Lubbock, Coastal Bend College in Beeville, Lampasas Chamber of Commerce, Sea World San Antonio and Sapling Farms in Sanger.
Employers who have participated in SEAL express positive experiences, appreciate having the additional help on their teams and broaden their perspectives from working with students with disabilities.
“Summer Earn and Learn connects Texas employers to their local workforce talent, which includes students with disabilities, who will soon be entering the workforce,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron Demerson. “People with disabilities are the true problem solvers of our society, and employers seeking to add a valuable, committed, and reliable team member to their workforce will find this program incredibly valuable.”
For two years, Dallas-Fort Worth area business Movie Tavern has welcomed several students for summer employment through the SEAL Program. Terry Sullivan, General Manager of the Bedford location of Movie Tavern is appreciative of the help and has also hired two students as full-time employees.
“It’s an exciting thing for us to work with Goodwill. It’s a win-win for us and for the students who get some practical experience from working on the job and it’s extra labor for us,” said Sullivan. “They get to grow with the company. They are a great asset and a great help to Movie Tavern.”
Watch more about Movie Tavern’s SEAL students’ experiences here.
Students interested in participating in SEAL should contact their local TWS-VRS office:
Email: [email protected]