The UPS Workforce Learning Lab through HIRE LA’s Youth, serves autistic youth
The first Hire LA’s Youth worksite to offer job training to young people with special needs opened in early July. The Los Angeles Speech and Language Therapy Center recently partnered with the United Parcel Service to open the UPS Workforce Learning Lab in Culver City, where a dozen youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will have the opportunity to practice the social skills needed to succeed in the workplace.

“What I want to do is give them the tools they need so when they get these jobs they’re able to be a viable member of the workplace,” said program Founder Dr. Pam Wiley.

The 440-square foot site is set up to resemble a UPS store and is the first UPS training facility nationwide to be placed in a speech pathology clinic. Participants will receive four hours of job skills training each week for four months, including customer service, packaging and copying, before moving on to an internship in the fifth month.

Social interactions can be challenging for many autistic youth and the lab provides a safe space for them to develop soft skills in a protected space before venturing out to jobs in the real world, said Dr. Wiley.

Jan Perry, General Manager of the City of Los Angeles EWDD, attended the July 12 ribbon cutting ceremony, along with other EWDD staff. Wiley credits Perry with inspiring the idea to create a partnership with Hire LA’S Youth so that participants could earn a real wage during their job training.

Hire LA’S Youth, administered by EWDD, gives youth ages 14-24 in Los Angeles an opportunity to experience their first jobs, leading them to a path of becoming lifelong earners. Receiving the paychecks gives participants a big self-esteem boost.
“Thank you, Jan Perry, for allowing us to be part of this,” Wiley said. “She’s such a big champion for kids with autism and special needs. I know our families greatly appreciate it.”

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES Newsletter from the week of 7/24/2017. Read this issue and more.