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Patrick Praises NewBridge Program to Train Disabled Adults

Patrick said more employers need to get on board with training for specific jobs.

Gov. Deval Patrick praised a NewBridge on the Charles program Thursday for training six disabled adults in job-specific skills that will hopefully land them jobs.

"Everyone deserves an opportunity to participate in the workforce. Everybody counts," Patrick said to applause.

Overall, Patrick said Massachusetts has 240,000 people searching for employment and the commonwealth has 120,000 jobs open.

"How do we have so much opportunity available and so many peole still looking for thier chance," Patrick said.

Business owners say  there are just too many people that don't have the right skills for the right job, Patrick said.

"We have what we call a 'skills gap,'" the governor said. "There is too much to do and too many contributions to be made to risk leaving anyone behind."

The NewBridge program, operated by Jewish Vocational Services, in partnership with Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Ruderman Fmaily Foundation, helps Jewish adults with disabilities with skills such as food preparation and housekeeping.

"Just 25 percent of young adults with disabilities have the opportunity to work after high school, compared to almost 62 percent of young adults without disabilities," said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. "These numbers are an embarrassment and must be addressed.

Two of the six graduates from the program will continue working with Hebrew Senior Life, program leaders said. 

"We can learn from the Transitions to Work model. We need our community colleges to engage in similar ways," Patrick said. "We need more employers to engage with our Work Without Limits initiative to broaden opportunities for workers with disabilities."

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