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Hannibal School District Provides Creative Workforce Solutions

At Hannibal Regional, the hospital is working with the local school district to enlarge the community’s workforce.

“Individuals with disabilities are an untapped resource for fulfilling positions and jobs within our community,” said Melissa Johns, Director of Employment and Community Services at Learning Opportunities Quality Works.

Hannibal School District’s B.E.S.T program is in its second year. It focuses on training students with disabilities while they’re in high school so that they become strong members of the community’s workforce when they graduate.

“The students progressed quicker and further than we thought they might be able to, and we’re already seeing that this year, too,” said Susan Wathen, VP Human Resources, Hannibal Regional.

The students spend an entire school year getting hands-on training at the hospital. From assisting with inventory and cleaning patient’s rooms, to helping in the hospital’s kitchen, these students are gaining real-world professional experience.

“The things that I cannot recreate in the classroom, they are getting here. They really do truly learn what it means to be a good employee through this,” said Brock Sousa, B.E.S.T. Instructor, Hannibal Public Schools.

“They’ve had support with job coaches, they’ve had support with team members at the hospital helping them, so they have a lot of skills to offer an employer,” said Johns.

The success rate from last year’s program was 100%, with all of the students finding employment after graduation.

“This is completely life changing because some of them are the first in their family to have full-time employment with full benefits, retirement, and insurance,” said Sousa.

The program is a game changer for these students, and it’s filling gaps in the community’s workforce.

“We continue to do follow along with those employers, and every single employer is happy with the individual, the work that they’re doing, the skills that they have, and the way that they contribute to the day to day operation of their local businesses,” said Johns.

Proving that this Missouri community is willing to come up with creative solutions to ensure businesses have a large talent pool to choose from.

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