Ten students who are blind or visually impaired were preparing to interview for federal jobs last week, as part of job training program with the World Services for the Blind
, when word came that President Trump
's 90-day hiring freeze on civilian federal workers would put the program on the chopping block and those students in limbo.
WSB, the Little Rock-based nonprofit, has had to suspend its IRS-job-training program because of Trump's executive order
. The program, part of a 50-year partnership with the IRS, provides intensive training for blind or visually impaired people to work in a variety of positions within the federal agency. Participants in the program were guaranteed jobs upon successful completion.
The ten students immediately affected were in their third week of a four-week evaluation, preparing to interview for the Taxpayer Services Representative program. If accepted, they then would have begun a 13-week training program, before being hired by the IRS. The students, from across the country, came to Little Rock for the program. WSB is aiming to refer them to other job-training programs that they offer (however, none of these other programs has a guaranteed job at the end like the IRS program).
“Last week was one of the hardest weeks of my 17 months at WSB,” said Sharon Giovinazzo, president and CEO of the organization, in a statement. “Standing before these 10 people and having to tell them that because of the hiring freeze they would not have a class was devastating.”
Though the hiring freeze is 90 days, the impacts of the executive order will in practice last much longer and impact future programs as well, said Giovinazzo (this has to do with the order's timeline for reevaluating certain exemptions allowing preferential hiring for people with disabilities). Another IRS job training program, the Service Center Collection Representative Program, scheduled for summer 2017, may also have to be cancelled.