Custodial Services receives award

Oct 30th, 2008 | By | Category: Employee News, October 2, 2008, October 30, 2008

A decade-old commitment to helping Nebraskans earn a trade has been rewarded.

For helping teach custodial practices to clients of the Nebraska Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Service, UNL’s Custodial Services was named an Employer of the Year by the State Rehabilitation Council. The award – an inaugural honor given to six employers statewide – was accepted by Ron Bailey, associate director of Custodial Services, during a Oct. 23 ceremony in the Nebraska Union.


“This is truly a team award,” said Bailey. “We approached the state about increasing our participation in this program about 10 years ago. However, it’s been the commitment of our managers, supervisors and custodians that have made it a success.”

Working in six regions statewide, Vocational Rehabilitation places individuals with disabilities into permanent, full-time employment with benefits. Individual disabilities range from developmental to physical.

“If I have a good candidate, someone who matches the standards regarding individual jobs, we help them complete an application,” said Jean Bullen, an employment specialist with Voc Rehab. “When we work with Custodial Services, I notify Ron Bailey and he checks to see if one of his employees is willing to work with our client.”

Bailey said he’s never had trouble placing a Voc Rehab client interested in the on-the-job training program.

“We just all see this program the same way,” said Nathan Walla, a custodial area manager on City Campus. “It’s a way of helping someone out that may not get a chance otherwise. We’re helping get them back in tune with society. How can you say, ‘No,’ to that?”

Voc Rehab clients complete a 12-week course learning about custodial practices at UNL. The training is the same for all new employees, with lessons building from a 144-page, 12-module custodial handbook. They also learn from hands-on instruction provided by managers, supervisors and custodians.

“They go through new employee orientation, they wear our regular shirts, and they complete our formal training program,” Bailey said. “They work just like a regular employee.”

The primary difference is Vocational Rehabilitation pays the clients for the work. Bailey also supplies regular reports  on each individual to Voc Rehab. If there is a problem, Voc Rehab helps the individual work through the issue.

When the job training is complete, the Voc Rehab clients can apply for openings in Custodial Services (if any exist), wait for an opening, or enter the workforce elsewhere with three months of previous experience.

“This is our way of reaching out to Nebraska,” Bailey said. “We are able to help these individuals succeed. But, we also benefit from having for 12 weeks individuals who are willing to work and learn about custodial services. And, if they do apply for a position with the university, we know they are a well-trained applicant.”

In the last three years, a dozen Voc Rehab clients have gone through the on the job training. Six of those individuals are regular, full-time employees with Custodial Services. Two others are currently in the program.

Bullen said 18 clients have gone through the Custodial Services program in the last 10 years. Of those, all 18 have found jobs following the UNL training.

“I’ve been with this program for 20 years and it’s absolutely wonderful to see people progress and contribute to the work environment,” said Bullen. “Custodial Services has really helped make that possible for a number of people over the years. The university should be proud of their commitment to this program.”

Bullen said the program is open to all types of employment opportunities. For more information about working with Vocational Rehabilitation, a division of the Nebraska Department of Education, contact Bullen at or 471-6331.

— Story by Troy Fedderson, University Communications

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