OVR works to include clients in CNMI employer work plans

Posted on Mar 29 2023


Representatives of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation met with Department of Labor’s Job Placement officer Manny Iguel last March 28, 2023, to discuss opportunities for people with disabilities to be included in employer workplans for hiring more U.S. citizen workers.

Iguel asked for the meeting and explained that he would be asking employers to include OVR as a resource for finding potential employees in working toward meeting the requirement for no less than 30% U.S. citizen workforce for any given company.

Among other things, he wanted to be sure that OVR would be amenable to meeting with employers and working with them to make suitable placements. He believes some employers are still hesitant to hire people with disabilities due to uncertainties about how their disabilities might affect work performance, but added, “It doesn’t change the fact that they still need to show good faith effort to meet the 30% minimum hires of U.S. citizens. I’ll be telling them to come knock on OVR’s doors whenever they have openings.” He hopes “OVR can assist in helping them to understand how our people with disabilities can be successful employees.”

OVR case services manager Arlene Yamagata explained that OVR has in theory expanded its customer base to include employers. “Without our employers, there would be no jobs for us to place our primary consumers of people with disabilities into. We need to work with employers as well to educate and assist them in the process of job placement for our clients, if we want to them succeed,” she said.

Representatives of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation meet with the CNMI Department of Labor last March 28, 2023, to discuss work opportunities for people with disabilities. From left, OVR counselor Rose Ichiuo, OVR case services manager Arlene Yamagata, OVR director Jim Rayphand, DOL Job Placement officer Manny Iguel, OVR counseling clerk Annie Marciano, and OVR counselor aide Sherraine Flores. (OVR)

OVR receives federal grant funds to provide vocational rehabilitation services to assist eligible individuals with disabilities to prepare for, secure, retain, advance in, or regain competitive integrated employment within their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice. Services include, but are not limited to, assessment for determining eligibility and vocational rehabilitation needs, vocational rehabilitation counseling and guidance, information and referral, physical and mental diagnosis and restoration services, vocational and other training services, job search/placement assistance/job retention services, supported employment services, post-employment services, rehabilitation/assistive technology, school-to-work transition services, etc. Services are individualized and provided in the context of an approved Individualized Plan for Employment. OVR consumers may be required to financially participate in their rehabilitation program.

Yamagata will serve as point of contact for employers wishing to explore options for hiring individuals with disabilities through OVR. “From experience, we’ve seen job announcements published where employers have no intention of actually hiring anyone other than to renew their current staff. For the sake of time, we hope to identify those employers who are serious about hiring and not just going through the motions to satisfy a logistical requirement,” she said.

OVR director Jim Rayphand said that OVR will do everything within its capacity to assist employers and employees forge successful working relationships. “Ultimately, we will do everything possible and, of course, allowable to make sure that our clients are qualified to do the jobs they want to do. It should be said as well that the consumers themselves have to buy into the process and commit themselves to achieving their respective employment goals. By definition, employment means work and employers want people who will do the work they need for their companies, so our clients need to put in work, if they want to work.” (PR)

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