People with disabilities can work and want to work & we continually hear that workers with disabilities meet or exceed the job performance of co-workers without disabilities. Yet, the unemployment / under employment rate and low labor force participation rate of people with disabilities remains persistently low. Why is our nation deprived of a valuable pool of talent? Increasing the employment of people with disabilities produces significant benefits to the economy, the nation, and people with disabilities themselves. At the recent 2011 Disability Matters conference, one corporate panel member said, “This is just plain stupid!”
Using a case study approach Rutgers University conducted research on employer and market- driven initiatives to recruit, hire, train, and retain people with disabilities. They selected 13 diverse examples from around the nation of partnerships to identify successful elements of these strategies and offer lessons that can be learned by employers and employer organizations, workforce development and disability service organizations, and federal, state, and local policymakers. While each partnership has its own distinctive qualities, researchers found several overall themes:
- Employers respond to a business case for employing people with disabilities. Employers believe that people with disabilities who possess the skills needed for the job add value to the employer and positively affect the “bottom line.”
- Innovative collaborations with and between workforce-supplying organizations enable employer efforts to recruit, hire, train, and support employees with disabilities. Employers do not want to have to maintain relationships with many varied workforce- supplying organizations — they find it daunting to learn the intricacies of the workforce and disability service worlds. Accordingly, they prefer a single point of contact to coordinate needed assistance and supports they require to recruit and hire.
- Collaborations ensure that workers are qualified and productive. Needed supports and accommodations are provided to enable employees to be successful once on the job.
- Successful collaborations nurture and reward continuous leadership.
These findings reflect the conversations during the 2011 Disability Matters conference. With the recent announcement of the 2011 theme for National Disability Awareness month announced--Profit by Investing in Workers with Disabilities--now is the perfect time to begin thinking about how you will take steps to get your company ready to recruit, hire, train, and retain an inclusive workforce that includes qualified workers with disabilities. You can start by:
- Increasing interactions with people with disabilities. Successful experiences with qualified workers with disabilities increase the employer’s willingness to expand employment opportunities.
- Talking with other companies. Employers tend to listen to each other; business-to-business marketing of the value of employing people with disabilities is most powerful.
- Forming partnerships with disability service providers in your community. In some cases, intermediaries can organize and coordinate supports and provide technical assistance on workforce issues, including disability-specific issues.
- Offering internships & monitorships, encouraging hands-on guidance and work experience, and providing opportunities for workers to earn credentials and degrees for career advancement, helps to ensure workers with disabilities are qualified and productive.
- Becoming a leader to develop, coordinate, nurture, and manage collaboration.
- ATTENDING the 2012 DISABILITY MATTERS AWARDS BANQUET & CONFERENCE to be held April 18-19th in Newark, NJ at Prudential's headquarters. Call 973-813-7260 today to learn more.
This information should not be construed as "legal advice" for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.