Brady Poetzel is focused on the task in front of him. He puts a foam ring around a plastic throttle that is designed for small engines like a lawn mower. He also puts together brackets.

“I like working on throttles and brackets,” Poetzel said. “I do a nice job.”

Less than 100 feet away from Poetzel, Ricky Watson hooks up a part for a washing machine to test if it’s working properly.

Both Poetzel and Watson are on the autism spectrum and are employees of Engauge Workforce Solutions, which trains people with diverse abilities and immigrants in manufacturing. It teaches them how to work in a warehouse and put together machine components for real customers.

Engauge works with the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin (DSAW) which helps provide classes and training for people like Poetzel and Watson who want to get a job, earn a paycheck despite their personal challenges.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. awarded DSAW up to $9 million in workforce innovation grants, which will provide training and development for those with diverse abilities and their families through wraparound care. That includes having a central website with available resources.

[Adapted from: Here’s an employer that is providing key opportunities to workers with disabilities April 12, 2023 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]