Nebraska VR Helps Rehabilitate and Revitalize Workforce

vr nebraska logoIf you are disabled, a senior citizen who has outlived your retirement savings, a person who’s injured from a previous work experience, a veteran wounded in war, or a teen or youth with a mental or physical disability, the Nebraska VR is here to help you.

Take this story recently reported by the , for example. Craig Engel was a welder at Lindsey Manufacturing, making pneumatic pivots, when he was in a car accident that left him with a brain injury and affected mobility. After months of rehabilitation, he visited the Columbus branch of the Nebraska VR to find work.

He met with a counselor, Marlen Konsel, who helped him find a position at local company Columbus Hydraulics. After two months, Engel was hired as a part-time welder: “Employees there work 10-hour shifts, which was too long for Engel because of his physical condition. So he started working six-hour shifts, which gradually progressed to nine hours, and he’ll be working full 10-hour shifts in the next couple of months.”

Success stories like this, in which people either affected by an accident or born with a disability find a stable, enjoyable career, are just another day at work at the . The VR is a government organization that provides workshops, skills assessments, job shadowing, or assistance with asking employers to make small accommodations like stools for resting or Engel’s adjusted work hours. Statistics show that the organization is pretty talented at what they do: Each year, they work with over 6,000 Nebraska residents with disabilities and place approximately 1,800 residents in the workforce per annum.

These job placements aren’t just beneficial for the workers, but for the company as well. Columbus Hydraulics Human Resources Manager Bryan Ternus says that “there’s less turnover with VR. The ones we’ve hired are ready to get back to work or want a job. And they’re a little more assertive with getting involved and learning.” Additionally, when employers hire through the VR, the state actually covers the first 80 hours of pay.

Unsurprisingly, many of the businesses that work closely with the Nebraska VR are manufacturers. Nebraska Machine Products, Valmont Industries, Cargill, Amcon, and others are dedicated to including disabled workers. Mike Schlimgen from testifies that the experience of working with the Nebraska VR is well worth it: “The Nebraska VR gives clients and employers the opportunity connect. Their follow-up support eliminates most of the issues that go with hiring new people.”

The VR will even pre-screen to make sure candidates are qualified, help employers identify valuable tax benefits, and even possibly provide a free trial employment period. And, if need be, they can help you retrain current employees who have developed a disability from accident, illness, injury, or even addiction.

We’re proud to have such an outstanding organization located in the state to advocate for both disabled workers and employers. The manufacturing industry is no small sector here in Nebraska, so it’s a natural fit for many manufacturers to work closely with the VR to fill open positions and help disabled people contribute to our workforce.