Arc Broward – Arc Works: Preparing Students to Enter the Workforce

By Helen Penland

The Arc WorkBar center for members with disabilities opened in February 2017. It is the epicenter for Arc Works, one of the three initiatives launched by Arc Broward recently. This is where much of the training takes place. It’s also where all the training students receive culminates into the final steps toward entering the workforce. The Arc Works initiative is perhaps the most important step clients take. According to Melissa Gousse, the Training and Career Development Manager, with the organization for eight (8) years, during this final step, they are trained in important job and life skills such as writing resumes, interview tips and practices, developing spending plans, and managing finances. Each student works with a Mentor to provide direction and help them with job searches. Included in the program are three workforce readiness skills classes. Ms. Gousse oversees this part of the process. She guides clients toward “putting knowledge into practice.”

Arc WorkBar boasts a 2,600 square-foot facility featuring classes, seminars, and hands-on training. However, this is just a part of the equation. Another of its prime functions is to provide a stimulating environment for participants to gather and foster connections, both socially and professionally. It allows clients to flourish and reach their full potential. It is a place where they can have a vivacious, creative environment to network with people in the business community, pursue their career goals (not just jobs), and further enrich their training. The ultimate goal of Arc Works is to provide meaningful placement that is in the best interest of both the employer and the client. Some of the employers who strongly support Arc Works employee placement are Publix Supermarkets, Walgreens, Planet Fitness, City Furniture, and more!

In addition, it’s become a resource for training businesses to affirm a smooth transition for Arc Broward clients into the workforce and help companies’ diversity goals. Arc Broward gives long-term support to its students and graduates. Julie Price, Vice President of Programs and Social Enterprises, refers to this as “wrap-around support.” It is ongoing and graduates are always welcome to stop by the Arc WorkBar to connect with teachers and classmates.

Arc Broward receives candidates for their programs and their initiatives through a variety of sources. Some come as word-of-mouth referrals, others from multiple organizations such as the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, mental health case managers, school counselors, and from the several agencies who work with people with disabilities. Funding is provided by many associations, such as Broward County, United Way, the Social Security Administration, and a significant number of private contributors.

For more information about this facility, visit: The Arc WorkBar is located at 735 NE 2nd Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304 in the Flagler Arts Village. (2nd Avenue is also known as Flagler Blvd.) Look for more on the Arc Culinary and Arc Tech programs in future articles.