Disabled people finding employment opportunitiesMonday, March 31, 2014 - Press Release
MERRILL (MyFoxWausau) - Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch visited a Merrill convenience store Monday to help promote a new worker training program for people with disabilities.
She saw how dedicated one of those workers is to his job at a Kwik Trip store.
Heather Timm, the Kwik Trip's manager, is happy with her employees who have developmental disabilities.
"They're the best workers ever," she said. "They'll do whatever you ask them to do. They come to work when they're scheduled, on time."
Russ Skidmore is one of those employees. About a month ago he became a retail assistant at the Merrill Kwik Trip.
"It's been real helpful to us in our busy times to have an extra person to do garbages, help stock the cooler and keep our bananas full," said Jackie Landwehr, one of Russ' co-workers.
He has the job thanks in part to Governor Scott Walker's Better Bottom Line initiative.
"[It gets] folks with disabilities the training they need in order to get the jobs they want," Kleefisch said.
State officials say $35M has been poured into worker training programs.
"Part of that $35 million is going to eliminating waiting lists for high-needs, industry training classes at technical colleges," said Kleefisch.
She says bringing more disabled people into the workforce is beneficial in many ways.
"When they are able to harness the power of a paycheck and spend it in the economy the way they choose, that's a win for the economy and it's a win for the employee," Kleefisch said.
Kwik Trip managers say it's good for the community too.
"A lot of the customers and guests like to come in and see them," Timm said. "It brings a smile to people's faces."
Kleefisch took time to visit Skidmore, but he barely had time to talk.
"He's working hard. He said, 'can I go back to work now?' I respect a man who says that because you know he really loves his job," she said.
Kleefisch says people with disabilities have higher job retention rates than the average Wisconsin worker, making them a good hire for employers.