CANTON – At the same time students are returning to schools across the North Country, a group of 15 Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) employed by United Helpers Mosaic are returning to the classroom to participate in the state’s first apprenticeship program for DSPs.
The program, which was launched as a collaboration between United Helpers Mosaic, St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES and the New York State Department of Labor includes 144 hours of classroom instruction and between 3,000 and 4,000 hours of on the job training broken into several categories, which relate to the profession.
Classroom instruction will be led by BOCES, while the Labor Department will oversee job training and monitor each employee’s training log.
“I’ve always wanted people who work as DSPs to be able to do this as a career and have a clear career ladder,” said United Helpers Mosaic Staff Development Director Jason Matthie. “I feel this helps us accomplish this and I’m immensely proud of this program.”
Department of Labor Apprentice Training Representative Nick Gratch oversees 100 apprenticeship programs across the Northern Region of the state.
“Historically apprenticeships have been associated with manufacturing or construction, but now we’re delving more into health care and other fields,” he said.
The benefits of an apprenticeship in any field are clear, he said, paid on the job training and experience that will prepare you for a career and not just a job.
“At the end of this program you could be a DSP anywhere in the country and a really good one,” Mr. Gratch said, adding the number of people graduating from this program each year will create a “pipeline” for people in leadership positions.
“For United Helpers this program provides us the satisfaction of being able to offer more opportunities for our employees,” Mr. Matthie said.
The employees though, won’t be the only ones who benefit, Mr. Matthie said.
“It is universally understood that a more professional, highly trained workforce equates to better satisfaction with services and quality of life for those people who receive services from Mosaic,” he said.
United Helpers employs roughly 225 DSPs who provide care and assistance for individuals with developmental disabilities in St. Lawrence County.
For more information on how you could become a DSP, please call (315) 393-3074 or visit www.unitedhelpers.org/employment. For information specific to the apprenticeship program, please contact Mr. Matthie at firstname.lastname@example.org.