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Employment and support services

a young school leaver working in an office - training on the computer

GCE Employment and Support Services is committed to assisting individuals with disabilities in all aspects of their employment journey.

Our team members are passionate advocates for diversity and inclusion, striving to cultivate environments of accessibility and acceptance. We offer a comprehensive array of services, including recruitment and outreach, assessment and evaluation, career planning, pre-employment transition services, on-the-job training, community-based employment, coordination of workplace accommodations, and job retention support. By providing personalized assistance and guidance, we empower individuals to prepare for, secure, and sustain meaningful employment opportunities, contributing to a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

Our customers include:

  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Community employers
  • Local school districts
  • Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Agency for Persons with Disabilities
  • Community rehabilitation partners/providers
Women working with disabilities

Pre-employment transition services/vocational rehabilitation career camps (VRCCs)

Vocational rehabilitation career camps (VRCCs) are a great way for students between the ages of 14 and 21 to prepare for careers in the 21st century. Students will participate in a variety of pre-employment transition services (pre-ETS) to explore careers and learn about the many choices they can make after high school. Career camps are available any time students are out of school for at least three consecutive days (e.g. summer break, winter recess, spring break). GCE’s career camps will include a combination of pre-ETS.

GCE currently offers the following pre-ETS:

  • Job exploration counseling: Interest and ability surveys, review of career websites or other similar activities.
  • Workplace readiness training: Soft-skills training, employability skills training, social/interpersonal skills (i.e. communication, problem solving, decision making, conflict resolution, empathy, professionalism, etc.) and independent living skills training related to employment (i.e. good hygiene, money management, time management, using technology and assistive technology, appropriate dress, appropriate behavior, etc.).
  • Work-based learning experiences: Work-based learning experiences in the community including field trips, job shadowing, informational interviews and industry tours. Paid and unpaid work experiences are not available through career camps.
  • Self-advocacy training: Instruction in self-awareness, disability disclosure, requesting accommodations, understanding your rights and responsibilities, self-determination and mentoring, including peer mentoring.

For information, please contact Katrina Simpkins, senior director of employment and support services, at 850-619-4050.

woman working with an employee

On-the-job training

This service provides opportunities to learn or enhance work skills through a paid on-the-job training assignment located at a community business. Participants must be able to pass a drug test and background check, if required.

For community employers, benefits of GCE’s on-the-job training include:

  • 100 percent of wages are reimbursed to the employer
  • Worker’s compensation insurance is covered at no cost to the employer
  • Cost of uniforms and tools are covered
  • No obligation to hire trainee

Pre-placement training

This 20-hour formal instruction program prepares people to present themselves and their work experience in a positive manner to a prospective employer. Topics include:

  • Job search skills
  • Completing job applications
  • Resume writing
  • Interviewing skills
  • Conflict resolution techniques

Community employment services

Individuals who are seeking employment in their local communities benefit from these services, which include:

  • Assistance with selecting realistic vocational (work) goals
  • Learning employability skills and behaviors
  • Facilitating job site modifications
  • Finding job opportunities
  • Job placement support
  • Providing job retention help, including ongoing training and assistance after a job has been secured

Targeted Employment Navigation Services

GCE’s Targeted Employment Navigation Services team provides assistance to applicants and GCE team members with disabilities, helping them navigate their employment journey. Services include:

  • Recruiting applicants with disabilities
  • Performing initial and annual evaluations to determine AbilityOne eligibility for applicants and team members
  • Collaborating with hiring managers to identify and recommend appropriate workplace accommodations and supports for GCE team members

For information about our Targeted Employment Navigation Services, contact Lisa Bloodworth at [email protected] or call 850-281-3331.

Project SEARCH is a national program that GCE has replicated at multiple community-based business sites.

Project SEARCH helps young adults with disabilities prepare for, obtain and retain jobs through career exploration, non-paid internships and supported employment job placement services.

This nine-month transition-to-employment program follows the school-year calendar and takes place in a business setting. Interns receive continuous feedback, gaining increased independence and confidence, as well as competitive and marketable job skills, such as:

  • Resume writing
  • Job search skills
  • Interviewing skills
  • Social and communication skills
  • Technology skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Workplace safety
  • Money management
  • Team building
  • Self-advocacy
  • Health and wellness, including eating healthy, benefits of exercise, coping strategies under stress

Each site has a certified instructor and employment transition specialist on-site to work with both interns and business leaders, providing individualized instruction, support and accommodations.

Meeting for hire with disabled workers

Candidates are eligible for Project SEARCH if they meet the following criteria:

  • 18 – 21 years of age
  • Have completed high school credits necessary for graduation
  • Agree that this will be the last year of student services through the school district
  • Have an active case with Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Have independent personal hygiene and grooming skills
  • Have independent daily living skills
  • Maintain appropriate behavior and social skills in the workplace
  • Take direction from supervisors to change behavior
  • Have the ability to communicate effectively with or without accommodations
  • Utilize public transportation when available and participate in travel training
  • Have previous experience in a work environment (including school, volunteer or paid work)
  • Are able to pass drug screen, background check, and have up-to-date immunizations if required by the host business
  • Desire and plan to work competitively in the community at the conclusion of the Project SEARCH program

Steps in the application process include:

  • Students are referred to the program through their school district.
  • The student and family complete and submit the application by a predetermined deadline.
  • Students participate in an interview and assessment day in early spring.
  • Student selection is carried out by members of the Project SEARCH steering committee by using a formalized scoring rubric developed by Project SEARCH.
  • Acceptance letters are sent to students.

For information about Project SEARCH, contact Lisa Bloodworth, senior director of transition and support services, at [email protected] or call 850-281-3331.

Locations and business site partners

Please note that some Employment and Support Services, such as Sign Language Interpreting Services and Targeted Employment Navigation Services, are offered for all GCE contract sites. Project SEARCH operates at the following locations:

Innisfree Hotels / Hilton Garden Inn, Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Innisfree Hotels / Hilton Pensacola Beach, Florida

Baptist Healthcare’s Gulf Breeze Hospital, Gulf Breeze, Florida

Baptist Hospital, Pensacola, Florida