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Vocational rehabilitation training prepares people to enter the workforce after an acquired disability, period of incarceration, or other extended period of unemployment. It includes an assessment to determine existing skills and abilities, followed by formal training to prepare to seek work. Some agencies offer job placement assistance, working with community organizations to place their clients in appropriate jobs. Government agencies often provide some funding and support for vocational rehabilitation training, and it is also available through private and nonprofit agencies.
People with newly acquired disabilities may spend some time receiving treatment and therapy during the adjustment period before they are ready to go back to work. The nature of a disability can change the kind of work someone is suited for. For example, a former telephone lineman may not be able to scale poles with a spinal cord injury. Vocational rehabilitation training may help people with disabilities find jobs suited to their existing skills and abilities. In some cases, people may learn new skills and change careers.
Time in jail or prison can also necessitate vocational rehabilitation training. Inmates may have outdated skills not applicable to the current marketplace, or may lack formal training and education if they were imprisoned early in their lives. A trainer can conduct an evaluation and discuss possible careers, and provide appropriate training and support. This can reduce the risk of recidivism, as former inmates may find gainful employment through vocational rehabilitation training.
Periods of unemployment can occur for other reasons; parents may take time out of the workforce to raise young children, for example, or people could have prolonged unemployment in a poor economy where they cannot find jobs. Training can help people prepare to reenter the workforce with useful skills. These individuals may benefit from classes to catch up with developments in their chosen fields, and other options to help them restart their careers.
The length of time spent in vocational rehabilitation training can vary. Trainers meet with clients to customize a training program for very specific needs, to ensure that a client receives the most appropriate education and training. Many programs are free of charge, although some advanced training may require payment; doctors preparing to work again, for instance, may need to attend continuing education seminars which may not be free. Those with concerns about paying for vocational rehabilitation training may be able to receive financial assistance from a community organization or charity.