Amid surge in online grocery shopping, Amazon and others hiring workers with special needs

The work takes concentration, repetition and is labor intensive.

But that's the point at JVS Human Services, which trains men and women with developmental challenges. They're preparing them for work in facilities the size of Amazon fulfillment centers. Good news too, Amazon is in the market for these workers.

"Teach you how to do everything right and need and make sure everything does not get screwed up," said Sandor Kovacs, who has a job at Amazon. "Sometimes if you mess up a little just like always, you can do it again."

Kovacs is one of the trainees hired by Amazon. His training is monotonous, but that's by design. When he gets to the real thing, he'll be fully prepared for work.

A surge in online sales from groceries to materials and gifts has pushed businesses to seek more workers like Kovacs. So far, Amazon and other big companies have already hired 30 people from the Metro Detroit area with developmental disabilities. 

"Amazon, Whole Foods, target, Sam's Club and we expect to add more as more and more employers move to online sales and fulfillment as opposed to big box stores," said James Willis, of JVS Human Services. "We see the need for more individuals with these backgrounds and skills."

That includes Kroger, who is hiring out of the same program. The idea is to give those who may be passed up for a job an opportunity to show their quality.

"We bring them back to the garage where we have the simulations and it's about an hour long, just to see if you can actually grasp the job and we just try to help them understand it as much as possible," said Jennifer Johnson, who helps train workers at JVS. "I showed them three times just so they can get a good understanding of the job."

Kovacs can count himself among the few who excels at his job. His supervisors weren't very surprised.

"When he came to do the simulation it was a breeze for him. He loves to talk and we've heard some funny stories. When he's at Amazon we hear he is one of the hardest working people that is there," said Gabrielle Sharp, an Amazon coordinator with JVS.