With the unemployment rate hovering at 9 percent nationwide, generating new employment opportunities continues to be a major focus for all sectors. Health care is no different, and as the largest private employer in the Commonwealth, Partners HealthCare has put an increased emphasis on investing in jobs and careers for our state’s economic health.
That’s why Spaulding Rehabilitation Network (SRN), the rehabilitation provider of Partners HealthCare, teamed up with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) to establish the ‘Working Partners’ program, a first of its kind public/private partnership that gives qualified persons with disabilities the skills and support they need to help them join the work force and improve their overall quality of life. For those living with a disability, finding a job can be especially difficult. Whether newly injured or living with a physical or mental disability through a lifetime, barriers to employment can seem insurmountable; in fact, the unemployment rate for those with disabilities is more than 50 percent higher than the general population.
Working Partners provides vocational rehabilitation and job training that helps candidates succeed in the workforce. These candidates also work together with an MRC employment specialist and a SRN manager to navigate available state and local resources, with the ultimate goal of placement in an employment setting. With these newly acquired skills, candidates are empowered to take more control over their lives. Candidates feel the great sense of pride that comes with entering or re-entering the work force and contributing their talents to something far greater than themselves. It also provides everyone the chance to engage with people of all abilities in the broader community.
Launched earlier this year, Working Partners has already led seven candidates to successful employment at Spaulding Hospital Cambridge. As members of the health care team, they provide valuable assistance by managing customer service tasks or tending to the service needs of patients, such as greeting them while getting a cup of coffee and providing a warm hello.
As we face a growing shortage in qualified health care professionals, Working Partners is an innovative example of how the public and private sectors can work together to create jobs, stretch finite resources, empower our local communities and give people the chance to contribute their talents to benefit all. We look forward to broadening the scope of this program, creating employment opportunities beyond health care and to other industries within our community.