WASHINGTON D.C., UNITED STATES, October 18, 2018 – On October 10th, 2018, ICare4Autism hosted the National Conference on Apprentice Training Programs focusing on high school students with special abilities in apprenticeship programs prior to entering the workforce. The event was attended by people from a variety of professional fields and served as a pathway to introduce the comprehensive plan for the national apprentice training program.
Dr. Beth Diviney, New Initiatives Director for ICare4Autism and primary organizer of the conference highlighted in her opening remarks the purpose of the ICare4Autism initiative, noting that “a lot of people are out there doing really marvelous, wonderful things…part of what we are trying to do is find a pathway to bring people together so that these things may be pulled together and shared by all.”
Dr. Joshua Weinstein, CEO and founder of ICare4Autism shared his vision with stakeholders, “Our ultimate goal is the high school graduation of each student with a general education degree, and the readiness skills needed to pursue higher education and/or a well-paying job that will enable them to live full and independent lives.” Distinguished speakers showcased their perspectives and efforts in the spirit of the national collaboration.
Mr. Julian Alvarez III, Commissioner at Texas Workforce Commission and representative of the Labor of the Texas Workforce, featured the high school pre-apprenticeship programs that happen in Texas. Dr. Stephen Shore and Dr. Robert Nassef shared their findings on the development of the neurodiverse curriculum in Philadelphia. Mr. Donald M. Payne Jr., a Congressman from New Jersey, shed light on the state with the highest rate of disabilities and declared, “We need to take action to ensure that people with special abilities are free to fully engage in the workforce, in civil society, and in public service.”
Other eminent speakers included Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia and Ms. Carol Schall, a Special Education Director of the Virginia Autism Resource Center. Panel discussions were held by professionals who work in the field, Mr. David Kearon, Director of Adult Services at Autism Speaks, Business Connections Program Manager Ms. Rachael Rounds, and Ms. Jennica Johansen, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. The conference was also attended by representatives from the Department of Labor. Dr. Scott Michael Robertson, the policy advisor from the ODEP discussed the competitive integrated employment. Ms. Jennifer Sheehy, ODEP Deputy Assistant Secretary presented her vision on inclusive apprenticeships.
In the closing session, Dr. Weinstein thanked everyone for attending the conference and emphasized the importance of increasing awareness and collaboration. He also announced the plan for an ICare4Autism Workforce National Training Program Committee and its formation in the nearest future.