I feel so lucky to have been able to participate in a Direct Support Specialist apprenticeship through a partnership between Michigan's Workforce Intelligence Network and Oakland Community College. It was nice learning that what we do is a skilled trade! A trade that most of us know, but for the Workforce Intelligence Network to place it on their website is a huge accomplishment for Direct Support Specialists!
The apprenticeship helped me see that what I do as a Direct Support Specialist is a skilled trade and it helped me use the knowledge that I already gained here at Progressive Lifestyles, Inc. and place it towards an associates degree in applied science/ social worker at Oakland Community College. The closer I get to my degree the more I see that by helping myself I am actually helping those I support, work with, and mentor by increasing my knowledge. I would recommend this apprenticeship to any Direct Support Professional that wishes to continue their education. It may just be what you need to learn what you would like to be when you grow up. Michigan's Workforce Intelligence Network has programs at many community college's throughout southeastern Michigan. My experience has been great working with Oakland Community College as we pave the way for more participants in this program in the future. They do not have many apprentices that continue their education after receiving the certificate from the department of labor so next steps are still being determined. They have answered all my questions and are keeping an open mind while trying to understand all the education that Direct Support Specialists already receive while working in the field. If there was anything I have gained from it, it would be that I haven't just been educating myself, but I have helped educate others in the community on what it is we do.
We all need self care and this is a huge self care tool door that was opened for all Direct Support Specialist to stretch their selves for the future. If you gain anything it will be how proud you should be in a field of skill trades that cares for others.