ENABLED to Work Program Offers Training, Job Search Skills

Image of a man in a wheelchair at a desk with a laptop

Alex Bruton served two years in Vietnam and 22 years as an Army reservist, but he faced one of his biggest challenges when two knee replacement surgeries left him unable to continue working on his feet as a cardiology technician.

Bruton sought help from the Veterans Administration, which referred him to the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation services (DVR). That agency connected him with the ENABLE Division of Small & Associates of Livingston and ultimately with Rutgers’ Center for Continuing Professional Development (CCPD).

Through these two educational partners in the Rutgers ENABLED to Work program, Bruton has been able to train for a new career and enhance his marketability through job counseling.

With state grant funding paying his tuition, Bruton enrolled in an online training program through Rutgers’ CCPD last summer to become an electronic medical health records specialist.  He also received counseling through ENABLE on job-search and resume-writing skills and techniques.

“The course was excellent, I enjoyed it immensely,” said Bruton, who lives in Keyport.

He says the job counseling provided through the ENABLE program has been extremely helpful.

“Updating my resume and learning job searching skills was very valuable because I wasn’t really aware of the new methods in searching and my resume was outdated,” Bruton said. “My interviewing skills also needed to be updated. It brought a whole new perspective to what I had to do.”

ENABLED to Work is a grant-supported program that contracts with the DVR to provide training and job counseling services to individuals like Bruton, who may have recent or long-standing disabilities. The training programs are delivered online through Rutgers’ CCPD.

Since the partnership between Rutgers and Small & Associates ‘ ENABLE Division began in 2011, more than 50 individuals with disabilities have received funding for online training programs and job counseling services, according to Annette Matheney of ENABLE, who is the program manager for the Rutgers ENABLED to Work partnership.

“Rutgers facilitates the training and ENABLE screens potential candidates and provides job-search services,” said Matheney.

To qualify for the program, individuals must have at least a high school diploma or GED, be proficient on a computer with internet access at home, and be registered with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. 

Matheney said that persons with a range of disabilities may qualify for training, including those with mental illness, physical disability, traumatic brain injury, learning disabilities and autism.

Sharon Raynor, CCPD program coordinator, works with the candidates to place them in noncredit, online training and certification programs.

“We look for programs that that are targeted to high growth industries,” Raynor said.  “Courses generally are shorter and more skills-focused than traditional degree programs.”

Alan Margulies of West Milford completed a training program for a certificate in pharmaceutical sales after being injured in an accident.  “I think the Rutgers program is very good, and Annette’s organization has a very good focus on the job search,” Margulies said.

Matheney said the most popular programs include the certified medical health records specialist and Microsoft Office certification.

Combining training with job counseling helps candidates become more confident as well as more marketable, Matheney says.

“They feel that when they are finished with their certificate program, they are going to be more marketable to potential employers,” she said. “I can’t say enough good things about the curriculum and the program development.

The ENABLE Division of Small & Associates currently serves people who reside in Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Essex, Union, Morris, Sussex, and Warren counties. For more information about the ENABLED to Work, program, visit enable-work.com or contact Annette Matheney at 973-533-1662.

Rutgers CCPD is a unit of the Division of Continuing Studies. CCPD offers online training programs in a wide range of career areas and at various levels, from entry level to executives. For information about its programs, visit ccpd.rutgers.edu, or contact Raynor at 732-932-6998, ext. 604.

-- Sandra Lanman

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