The Future is Now for VersAbility Resources Graduates in Welding, Culinary Arts

A group of Future of Work welding graduates pose in a welding facility with VersAbility members.

VersAbility Resources’ inaugural Future of Work program graduated its first set of students.

The Future of Work program launched by the Hampton nonprofit in January 2022 offers life-long career opportunities to the greatest untapped talent pool in the nation as only 37.2% of people with disabilities were employed in 2021, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Future of Work addresses barriers to employment for people with disabilities by developing wraparound support services.

VersAbility started initial 12-week cohorts in welding and culinary arts. The first welding class graduate, Ethan Abercrumbie, enrolled in a three-week Marine Welder Trainee program through Newport News Shipbuilding, he has successfully completed this program and is in the process on onboarding as a full-time employee. Future of Work graduate Glenn Moss will begin the same program in October.

Veyonce Gaines became the first Future of Work student to graduate from a culinary arts program through the Food Bank of the Virginia Peninsula. VersAbility Job Coaches have partnered with the Food Bank to assist Ms. Gaines and potential future students with finding employment in the food service industry upon successful graduation.

“We are very proud of Ethan, Glenn, and Veyonce and their successful completion of these programs.  We are excited to see where these skillsets will lead each of them and are honored to support them on their individual journeys to careers and economic independence.” -Sydney Smith, Workforce Development Manager.

A $200,000 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Grant funded a substantial portion of Future of Work with additional sponsors Newport News Shipbuilding, Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Foundation, Sentara, Truist Foundation and Dominion Energy contributing.

Second culinary arts and welding classes will begin on Sept. 12 and run through Dec. 12. More sessions will follow in each in January 2023.

Support services include dedicated job coaches onsite to facilitate people with disabilities successfully completing certification/credentialing and apprenticeship programs necessary to expand their career opportunities in high-demand industries.

VersAbility is reviewing surveys and developing additional professional partnerships for other areas of interest such as information technology and Certified Nursing Assistant. Current partners include New Horizons, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, Hampton and Newport News Schools, DARS, Old Dominion University, Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, Tidewater Community College and Community College Workforce Cooperative.

The Future of Work program is open to high school students, career-switchers and veterans. Anyone over the age of 18 with a documented disability is eligible to apply.

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