The idea that employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities are lacking is not a new one. For some time, TASH has been an advocate for employment as an essential component of life in the community. But despite research that tells us employing people with disabilities makes good business sense; despite evidence that workers with disabilities improve workplace culture and morale; and despite years of experience that demonstrates the loyalty and dependability of employees with disabilities, we’re still in crisis mode. The fact remains, too many people are denied opportunities for greater independence and community involvement through employment.
We caught wind of a new report this morning thanks to the Twitter feed of Disability.gov, a website managed by the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. The report details new research on employment practices that further makes the case for employment of people with disabilities, including intellectual and developmental disabilities. The report is entitled Ready and Able: Addressing Labor Market Needs and Building Productive Careers for People with Disabilities through Collaborative Approaches. You can view the complete report here, but we’ll cover some of the key findings in this post. Also be sure to check out the resources below.
Ready and Able
The National Technical Assistance and Research Leadership Center at Rutgers University conducted research into the hiring, training and retention of people with disabilities in the workplace. NTAR selected 13 partnerships between employers and trusted workforce intermediaries. The goal of the research, which was conducted across a six-month period, was to identify successful elements of employment strategies and offer lessons for success to employers, organizations, development and disability service organizations and federal, state and local policymakers. According to the NTAR report:
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.” Successful experiences with qualified workers with disabilities increase the employer’s willingness to expand employment opportunities. Because employers tend to listen to each other, business-to-business marketing of the value of employing people with disabilities is most powerful.
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. In some cases, intermediaries organize and coordinate supports and provide technical assistance on workforce issues, including disability-specific issues.
Collaborations ensure that workers are qualified and productive
Many effective projects feature internships and mentorships, encouraging hands-on guidance and work experience. Others provide opportunities for workers to earn credentials and degrees for jobs with good wages and benefits, or offer access to career ladders, workplace training and skills. Needed supports and accommodations are provided to enable employees to be successful on the job.
Successful collaborations nurture and reward continuous leadership
Leaders in the partnerships studied showed a willingness to develop, coordinate, nurture and manage the collaboration.
The NTAR researchers conclude that a core element of state and community efforts for employment of people with disabilities should be the collaboration between disability service organizations, the workforce development system (employment and training entities, post-secondary institutions), business-serving associations and economic development agencies.
TASH and Employment
Soon … and we mean very soon … TASH is rolling out a webinar series on discovery and employment. We’ve modified the webinar platform, so we’re able to significantly reduce the cost of each webinar. Stay tuned for more details, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Employment is a big part of the 2011 TASH Conference. Along with workshops and sessions, we’ll have a Micro-Enterprise Marketplace exhibition to showcase the work of self-advocate entrepreneurs. If you’re an entrepreneur, family member or service provider, check out the exhibitor page of the TASH Conference, or send a quick note to email@example.com. We’re always looking for more exhibitors and ways to connect information to the growing network of self-advocate entrepreneurs.
For more details on employment from a policy stance, you can find videos from TASH’s congressional briefing on integrated employment (July 2010) right here on YouTube. Videos are captioned.
As always, please feel free to drop a comment in the space below.