James Hord, vocational evaluator and safety coordinator at TRICO, gives a tour of the Kingsford facility during a 50th anniversary celebration of the non-profit organization. TRICO provides services to help people with disabilities overcome barriers to employment. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

KINGSFORD — Over past 50 years TRICO Opportunities Inc. has provided vocational rehabilitation to people with barriers to employment in the community.

A key component in this is TRICO partnering with local businesses on work opportunities for job seekers with disabilities.

Over the years, TRICO’s services have evolved and changed with the landscape of vocational rehabilitation services. Current changes fall in line with a growing national movement called “Employment First,” centered on the idea that all — including individuals with disabilities — are capable of full participation in integrated, competitive employment.

Getting those with disabilities involved in work gives them a sense of purpose, connection with their community and a means to support themselves.

TRICO’s employment services revolve around job development and customized employment. These services are person-centered, meaning individuals choose the path toward the type of employment they seek and then services are built around their skills, abilities and specific needs.

Job development is an individualized process to match a job seeker with an integrated, community-based job. Through the discovery process, an employment specialist with a vocational services agency such as TRICO and the individual amass essential information through interviews with that person and family and friends, along with observing that person in the community, at home, doing job tasks or on the job.

All of this information is compiled into a tool meant to match an individual to a job that fits interests, preferences, previous work experience, skills, knowledge, available resources and needs.

As part of providing these customized employment and job development services, TRICO also offers job coaching at an employee’s business to assist with initial training for a job and to help develop relationships with other employees who may provide support in integrating a disabled individual into the workplace. All of this is meant to ensure long-term, mutually satisfying employment.

Customized jobs differ from standard jobs through what often is called “job carving,” as specific tasks and job descriptions are formed around the individual’s abilities and needs of the business.

TRICO’s future will be closely connected to successes in matching skills, interests and needs of those they work with to the needs of an employer.

TRICO actively seeks out businesses who are willing to provide employment opportunities for those they serve. To explore whether TRICO may have a candidate who fits your employment needs, contact Emily Ellis at 906-774-5718.

For more information about TRICO, contact Executive Director Christine Kruppstadt at 906-774-5718.

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