"Community Conversation" taking steps toward an inclusive workforce

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) — An event tonight is opening the eyes of local businesses to a workforce that's more inclusive to people with disabilities.

Sixteen-year-old Jacob, an Altoona High School sophomore, loves to lend a helping hand, “I'd like to get a job where I can help people with disabilities out and like make sure that they're getting the care they need.”

And just like his peers at Altoona High, he’s looking at future opportunities to become part of the growing workforce.

“Maybe like a technical college, like electronics and stuff,” he ponders.

“Pretty exciting for my son to be working toward venturing out in the community,” adds his dad, Jamie. “Everybody should be included in this world to have a job, any employment and not be discriminated against and do anything they're capable of.”

That’s why, in a partnership with local schools, the Department of Workforce Development is bringing key players together with “Community Conversations.”

“And we really try to come together where we really try to figure out what's standing in the way of helping individuals with disabilities find employment,” says Wade Schenck, with DWD.

“An event like this really focuses on getting these guys paid positions because they've got the skills that can really help businesses out in the community,” says Amanda Mussehl, a Special Education Teacher at Altoona High School.

Organizers add, the event provides opportunities for employers to connect with potential future employees.

“They're the ones hiring, they're the ones helping the economy move forward in our area, and so ‘What are their hiring needs?’ ‘What are they looking for to grow their business?’ ‘And how do we work together to make them fit?’” he adds.

For now, Jacob continues volunteering as a student

“He makes me so proud!” says his dad.

Jacob now a hardworking representation of what an inclusive workforce can do for a community.