In this section of the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) monthly newsletter, EARN features and recognizes employers’ successful practices for outreach, recruitment, hiring, and accommodating workers with disabilities. EARN invites employers who would like to highlight their effective practices in employing people with disabilities to submit articles for future issues of the EARN newsletter.
This month, EARN recognizes May as Older Americans Month and offers resources to help retain one of our best resources. Additionally we spotlight Miami Air International for fostering an inclusive workplace by working with the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) to provide internship, training, and employment opportunities to people with disabilities.
COURAGE, CAREER, AND OPPORTUNITY AT MIAMI AIR INTERNATIONAL
Frankie Walls had dreams of self-sufficiency and economic independence. Though he had clear goals for himself, his ideas about his disability had been clouded by a lack of job opportunities which caused him to lose his sense of self-worth and believe that his career goals were unachievable.
In 2009, Frankie viewed a YouTube video featuring Nick Vujicic that allowed him to see he was limited by nothing, except himself. Frankie internalized the message of this presentation, and decided to go back to school to obtain an MBA. After graduation, he applied for job after job without success. Frankie realized he would need to strategically position himself for opportunity and take advantage of every resource. He decided to interview for the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) and found it to be truly a light at the end of the tunnel. Through WRP, Frankie received encouragement, coaching and mentoring activities, and access to entry-level professional positions.
Frankie became more optimistic about his future and his career. His involvement in WRP resulted in an opportunity to intern at Miami Air International in Miami, Florida. Out of the job market for over four years with a new MBA, the internship provided Frankie with advanced training and additional work experience. Frankie revealed that the WRP gave back his drive by reintegrating him into the workforce where he gained critical business knowledge and further developed himself as a professional.
From the onset, Frankie attained an exceptional experience at Miami Air by being accepted and treated as a regular employee and not just an intern. Both his supervisor Dustin and department director Armando always made him an integral part of the team and gave due recognition for his work ethic. Frankie’s disability was neither a limitation nor a focus by his supervisors or any of the employees. The work culture was one of inclusiveness, where his ideas and contributions were welcomed and his assistive technology requests were provided without question. He was also given an opportunity to learn about the airline industry in depth, beyond anything he could have imagined. Frankie attended weekly meetings in which each department shared what they did and how that fit within the global perspective of the company’s objectives. By integrating his academic skills with their business system, he assisted in the facilitation of a Content Management System. This placed Miami Air among the first five airlines to acquire their FAA 121 Certification. Frankie is thankful for his internship experience through WRP and is currently receiving calls and is networking to launch a new career.
May is also Older Americans Month, and EARN has resources to help employers support an aging workforce. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16.1% of people 65 and older were in the labor force in 2010, up from 12.1 percent in 1990. Among those 65 and older who worked in 2011, 44.3% worked full-time, year-round. EARN’s resources on employing older Americans include:
2013 DIVERSITY INC TOP 10 COMPANIES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES ANNOUNCED
Diversity Inc. announced the top ten companies for people with disabilities on May 1. The majority of the companies on the 2013 list are members of the USBLN®. Ernst & Young tops the list, followed by Procter & Gamble and IBM. According to Jill Houghton, USBLN® Executive Director, “These companies set an example as leaders by demonstrating a commitment to disability business inclusion in their workplace, marketplace, supply chain processes and corporate supplier diversity programs.” Click here to read more.
NDI ANNOUNCES 2012 REPORT ON EMPLOYMENT SERVICES AND OUTCOMES
The National Disability Institute (NDI) this month released “Statedata: National Report on Employment Services and Outcomes 2012,” from the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at UMass Boston. The report provides statistics over a 20-year period from several national datasets that address the status of employment and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MARTINEZ ON ENCOURAGING INCLUSIVE EMPLOYMENT
One of the primary goals of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is ensuring that disability is a part of corporate diversity and inclusion efforts. On May 2, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez gave the keynote address on this topic at EmploymentLINK 2013, an educational seminar for employers, disability employment professionals and leaders. “It is important for businesses to realize that given the current economic and demographic landscape, there has never been a more critical time for America’s employers to hire, retain and advance people with disabilities,” said Martinez.
INDIANAPOLIS MAYOR SIGNS DISABILITY BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROPOSAL
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard signed the Disability Business Enterprise Proposal on May 2, joining other City-County Council leaders and representatives to sign Proposal 289, which creates a disability program to encourage participation from disability-owned businesses on public works projects. The program will also purchase goods and services. “By creating the Disability Business Enterprise Program we are committing the leadership of our city to do business with companies owned by people who have disabilities,” Council Vice President John Barth said. “This is a group with traditionally high rates of unemployment and it is important to incentivize people with disabilities to become entrepreneurs.” The program is modeled after existing programs that target businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans. Click here to read more.
WORLD’S FIRST BRAILLE SMARTPHONE IN DEVELOPMENT
Sumit Dagar, an interaction design graduate of the National Institute of Design (NID), has been collaborating with IIT Delhi on the world’s first “Braille Phone.” Complete with a moldable interface, the phone is designed to respond to the needs of people who are blind. The phone, which has yet to be officially named, has a screen comprised of a grid of pins, which move up and down to form into Braille shapes and characters whenever an SMS message or email is received. It uses what’s called Shape Memory Alloy technology, so as each pin expands, it remembers and contracts back to its original flat shape. Click here to read more.
*In April 2013, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 27.3% for persons with disabilities compared with 70.6% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 43.3%, not seasonally adjusted.
EARN LAUNCHES NEW EMPLOYER BLOG
EARN is pleased to announce the launch of its new business and disability blog, the EARN|Exchange. Each month, The Exchange will bring you regular commentary on news and current events in business and disability employment. Postings will be provided by experts in HR, recruiting, training, as well as employers and EARN staff. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness during the month of May, the first EARN|Exchange post focuses on supporting veterans’ return to the workforce. Read this and other posts on the EARN|Exchange here!
EEOC ISSUES GUIDANCE FOR MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDERS, REVISED PUBLICATIONS ON EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS
Many people with common mental health conditions have a right to a reasonable accommodation at work under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). When requesting accommodations, employees may sometimes need supporting documentation from their mental health providers. An EEOC fact sheet briefly explains the law on reasonable accommodation and the mental health provider’s role in the process. Click here to read more.
The EEOC also issued four revised publications on the employment rights of people with specific disabilities including cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities. Click here to read the documents.
ETA PROVIDES GUIDANCE ON WOTC REAUTHORIZATION, CONTINUATION OF VOW ACT
On May 1, the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (ETA) issued Training and Performance Guidance Letter (TEGL) No. 24-12 announcing the Reauthorization of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and the Continuation of VOW to Hire Heroes Act and Veteran Groups and Provisions. The purpose of this TEGL is to inform the State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) of the retroactive legislative reauthorization of the WOTC for non-veteran target groups and the Empowerment Zones that expired on December 31, 2011, and the continuation of the WOTC for veteran groups, including the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 (VOW Act) expanded veteran groups. The TEGL also provides guidance to participating agencies and other Federal and State partners for processing WOTC certification applications. Click here to read more.
M-ENABLING SUMMIT: EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE MOBILE INDUSTRY
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)) announce the 2nd Annual M-Enabling Summit on June 6 and 7 in Washington, D.C. The summit is the only program exclusively dedicated to promoting mobile accessible and assistive applications and services for senior citizens and users of all abilities. Daniel Hesse, CEO of Sprint and leading executives from AT&T, T-Mobile, Microsoft, IBM, and more than 100 speakers will share insights on how to make mobile communications accessible for all users. Click here for more information.
ODEP, HERC ALLIANCE AIMS TO INCREASE EMPLOYMENT OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION EMPLOYMENT
Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and Paula Alfone, mid-Atlantic director of the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, have signed an alliance agreement to promote the employment of people with disabilities throughout the higher education community. The two organizations are combining their expertise to increase recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement at colleges, universities, hospitals, research labs, government agencies and related organizations. Click here to read more.
DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT INITIATIVE PROVIDES GRANT FUNDING TO STATE WORKFORCE AGENCIES
The U.S. Department of Labor will fund four to eight cooperative agreements totaling nearly $18 million to improve educational, training and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The grants represent the fourth round of funding through the Disability Employment Initiative, which is jointly funded and administered by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP.) The purpose of the cooperative agreements is to foster service delivery through the public workforce investment system for job seekers with disabilities. Click here to read more.
TWITTER TOWN HALL ASSISTS VETERANS LOOKING FOR CAREERS
A Twitter Town Hall on May 13 with the U.S. Department of Labor and the American Legion covered a wide range of programs and services from across the federal government aimed at helping veterans find employment. Secretary Seth Harris was joined by Joe Sharpe, national director of the American Legion’s Economic Division, to discuss new investments in hiring programs in the department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, online resources that connect employers to veterans, tools to help veterans translate military skills to civilian occupations, and services available to veterans at the 2,700 American Jobs Centers across the country. The #VetsJobsChat hashtag was circulated widely, with hundreds of tweets sent throughout the day fostering the discussion. Click here to read more.
EARN is funded by the
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy