Employment Skills for Individuals with Disabilities in the Food and Beverage Industry

Dark blue color scheme. Kellys Kitchen logo at the bottom right. Text says: 5 Skills that will help you successfully work in the food industry as a person with a disability. Self Advocacy. Creativity in learning new skills. Patience. Communication skills. Problem solving.
Dark blue color scheme. Kellys Kitchen logo at the bottom right. Text says: 5 Skills that will help you successfully work in the food industry as a person with a disability. Self Advocacy. Creativity in learning new skills. Patience. Communication skills. Problem solving.
According to an article on LinkedIn, a professional-oriented networking site, the “Top 5 Skills You Learn in the Food Industry (That You Can Use in Any Career” indicates these are the top 5 skills to learn and need for success:
1. Communication
2. Prioritizing
3. Patience
4. Thick Skin (the ability to “grin and bear it”)
We would also identify this to be the ability to deal with difficult people and/or criticism.
5. Problem Solving
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At Kelly’s Kitchen, we advocate for employment in the food and beverage industry for people with disabilities. And we see the top 5 skills you need to learn that will serve you well in this position a little differently.
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Our Top 5:
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1. Self-Advocacy
Self-Advocacy is what helps a person with a disability (or ANY person) know what works best for them, set goals for success, figure out best communication styles for them, and identify who they need to help them build skills or be successful in a job. This includes, but is not limited to communication. It’s the way someone communicates with their supervisor/boss about needs, areas for improvement, requesting support, how/when/if to disclose disability, etc. It’s also the way someone communicates with coworkers and customers – and if direct contact with customers is even something they want to do or a necessary part of their job.
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2. Creativity in Learning New Skills
People with disabilities have to get creative to accomplish goals and complete tasks in a world that defaults to non-disabled standards. We think it’s less about prioritizing tasks, and more about figuring out what your tasks are, what you’re good at, how you can complete them, and what AT (assistive technology) or supports you may need. For example: if you do have a lot of moving parts to your job and you need help prioritizing tasks, have a task board up in your work station where you can schedule your time out and move the tasks around to help you visually see what needs to be done. A coworker or supervisor can even assist with helping to set priorities for the day.
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3. Patience
Not just with yourself, but with those around you who may not have worked alongside someone with a disability. Unfortunately, you may be the first person they have had to accommodate. And being a teacher on disablity etiquette is a TOUGH job on it’s own that’s not a part of your paid employment. If someone is trying to learn and accommodate you, give them some grace.
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4. Communication Skills
Everyone communicates differently. Knowing how you best relay and receive information is essential in being successful at your job. For anyone regardless of disability. Ask your supervisor what their expectations are with communication. And let them know yours. This will decrease any misunderstandings and make it easier to do your job. Also communicate when there is an issue, or an accommodation (something you need to be successful) is not being provided so you can get what you need to get the job done!
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5. Problem Solving
As a person with a disability, you are more likely to encounter barriers than someone without a disability. And that, again, is because we live in a society and world where the default is not having a disability. Part of problem-solving is utilizing your other skills: self-advocacy, communication, creativity, and patience to solve problems and grow as an individual and an employee. And to help your workplace become more disability friendly through the accommodations thtey provide you and the education they get from having a valuable employee on staff. You may end up solving accessibility problems they didn’t know they had. Because someone without your disability may never have thought about it from a different perspective before.
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