Benton Employment Solutions is working with area teens to set them up for success.
There is nothing more important to a teenager than freedom—but after turning in final exams at the end of another school year, kids are hit with a hard truth: Going out with friends every day isn’t cheap. For high school students, a summer job not only funds these freedoms, but arms them with the experiences they need to build a career. However, finding a good job is never easy, and can be especially difficult for those with disabilities.
That’s where Benton Employment Solutions comes in. Its staff specializes in finding the right jobs for individuals with physical, emotional, and cognitive disabilities, while also assisting employers in the hiring and training processes. “Hiring can be a daunting experience for any business; you never know who you’re getting until they prove themselves and budgets can be tight,” says Jim Benton, the company’s director of employment services. “We’re trying to open the eyes of as many people as we can that employing disabled individuals is not a charity case; they provide value.”
Though Benton Employment Solutions helps people from 16 to adulthood find jobs, in the summer months, its team redoubles its focus on employing high school students. Benton explains, “As soon as school’s out, our company finds the motivated students who want to work. These students actually become our employees. We provide them with a paycheck and liability coverage, then place them at businesses around the community.” The company’s strategy is to provide students with disabilities the most realistic work experience possible while alleviating many of the concerns other employers may have—at no cost.
Even after finding a position suited to a student’s strengths, Benton Employment Solutions provides continuing support through every step of a student’s employment. To ensure both employee and employer get the most value out of the summer as possible, the company provides a job trainer to accompany each student on site. This on-the-job coach is there to give tips on everything from efficiency to soft skills. Nevertheless, employees-in-training are treated no differently by their host managers. They wear the same uniforms and complete the same tasks as do their teammates in the workplace.
Around Southwest Michigan, you can find Benton Employment Solution’s hardworking employees at local businesses including the Radisson Plaza Hotel, AVB, and Waterstreet Coffee. “We have groups of students starting every four weeks,” says Benton. “After their time with us, some of them go off and get jobs on their own. But many times, the employers themselves don’t want to part ways.” This summer, Benton proudly expects many of this year’s students will find permanent employment as a direct result of this program.
“We’re in the business to help students with disabilities, but we get rave reviews from the employers who say they’ve found a great team member,” says Benton, “After these students build some experience, they become very useful employees who create a lot of value.”
Most of Benton Employment Solutions’ young employees are located in the Kalamazoo area, but its reach extends as far as Coldwater and even metro Detroit. If you’re an employer looking for eager new team members, or a student looking for invaluable job skills (and a paycheck), visit Benton Employment Solution’s website to learn more!