Federal grant will help train more vocational rehabilitation counselors

By University Communications
March 2, 2015
Daniel Kelsey, left, talks with students at UW-Stout.

Photo: Daniel Kelsey, left, talks with students at UW-Stout.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded University of Wisconsin-Stout a grant of nearly $1 million to help address the need for more vocational rehabilitation counselors.

“This long-term training grant will fund advanced education and training for students interested in being rehabilitation counselors,” said Daniel Kelsey, an assistant professor in the department of rehabilitation and counseling and the project director. “These students will then become professionals and assist people with disabilities who desire to obtain employment.”

The Rehabilitation Long-term Training Grant, funded by Rehabilitation Services Administration, provides scholarships for students who are admitted to the on-campus or online M.S. degree in vocational rehabilitation at UW-Stout.

The grant totals $950,000 and will be applied directly to student scholarships over five years.

“Vocational rehabilitation counselors work with individuals with disabilities who are seeking assistance in returning to work or who are entering the workforce for the first time,” Kelsey said.

“The counselors specialize in implementing workplace accommodations and removing physical and/or social barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities from obtaining or maintaining employment,” he added.

The demand for rehabilitation counselors is expected to grow 20 percent nationally over the next 10 years, Kelsey said, and the grant will help to reduce the shortage of rehabilitation counselors in the United States.

Graduates from UW-Stout’s program are in high demand and report an employment placement rate of 95 percent.

“Individuals with disabilities are often overlooked, or worse, excluded from the workforce,” Kelsey said. “It is often incorrectly thought that individuals with disabilities cannot work, do not want to work or would not be qualified to work.”

Helping students become rehabilitation counselors, he added, “is a win-win for society: Individuals with disabilities obtain work and employers find qualified employees, regardless of disability status.”

More information about the M.S. degree in Vocational Rehabilitation is available at www.uwstout.edu/programs/msvr/