When military veteran Kevin Vincent suffered a service-related injury, he found himself frustrated by the lack of employment agencies that helped people with disabilities find jobs. Noticing a larger trend at play, Vincent and best friend Tony Farinella set out to close that gap in the market.
In 2013, the two veterans founded Vocation Depot, a nonprofit employment services organization based in Plant City, Florida, that helps people with disabilities find meaningful career opportunities. Vocation Depot works with several employers who value veterans in the workplace, most notably the Florida Vocational Rehabilitation Division, a subsidiary of the state’s Department of Education. The staffing agency connects more than 5,000 veterans with physical and behavioral disabilities to job opportunities across 20 counties in Florida.
Why Vocation Depot values experience
Cofounder Farinella understands that age is an asset. He knows the potential inclusivity has to transform the customer-client experience, but diversity alone does not equate to inclusivity. True inclusivity must start internally. For example, creating a workplace where workers from a diversity of ages, perspectives, gender identities, races, abilities and skill sets feel genuinely safe can eliminate a team’s blind spots and drive innovation.
Age is one type of diversity that we all share and, with shifting labor force demographics, smart employers understand the value in building age-friendly workplaces. With a team of eight full-time employment specialists, six part-time employment specialists and five administrative employees, more than 25 percent of Vocation Depot’s workforce is over 45 years old. Age inclusivity has allowed Vocation Depot to serve its expanding client base, meet its organizational goals and offer focused mentorship to its veteran talent.
“At the Vocation Depot, we believe that older workers are invaluable. They have unique experiences in both life and work that help them connect with our clients on a different level,” Farinella says.
Fostering a multigenerational workforce
Vocation Depot signed the AARP Employer Pledge in 2018 and joined the more than 1,900 employers nationwide to equip its workforce with tools that promote age inclusivity. Vocation Depot’s multigenerational workforce is supported by these four policies and practices: