In this section of the Employer Assistance and Resource Network monthly newsletter, EARN 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 spotlights MetLife for working to build a culture of inclusion and respect for diversity by focusing on recruiting students with disabilities to increase the company’s talent pipeline.
GROWING THE TALENT PIPELINE: RECRUITING STUDENT INTERNS WITH DISABILITIES
At MetLife, student internships are a significant part of the Global Talent Management program. MetLife has various internship programs and opportunities, including one that is made possible through a partnership with the National Business and Disability Council’s (NBDC) Emerging Leaders program. During this four year partnership, MetLife has recruited qualified undergraduate students with disabilities into its internships and, in some cases, permanent positions with MetLife.
MetLife ensures that all student interns have a meaningful experience by providing training and guidelines to supervisors. The company embraces the philosophy that student internships are a win-win for the students and the company. Student internships provide students the opportunity to gain work experience and the chance for MetLife to expose potential job candidates to the company, the industry, and a corporate environment. In turn, MetLife also gains access to a new pipeline of talent.
MetLife’s partnership with the NBDC and the Emerging Leaders Program has created an inclusive environment with respect to people with disabilities. MetLife also credits its annual participation in National Disability Mentoring Day with increasing disability awareness among its employees. Each October, MetLife hosts students and individuals with disabilities for a day of job shadowing and mentoring. During this event, NBDC provides training on disability etiquette to MetLife employees. Participation in this annual event helps MetLife to continually build a culture of inclusion and respect for diversity.
EARN OFFERING FREE WEBINARS
The Employer Assistance and Resource Network is offering a series of free webinars in celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October. The next webinar topic is as follows:
• “Tapping the Talents of College Students and Graduates with Disabilities”, October 25
Employees, job seekers, employers, policymakers and researchers now have access to a new online resource that provides a unique approach to workplace flexibility. The Workplace Flexibility Toolkit, launched this week by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, points visitors to case studies, fact and tip sheets, issue briefs, reports, articles, websites, other related toolkits, and frequently asked questions. The toolkit makes more than 170 resources easily accessible, particularly for workers and job seekers with complex employment situations, such as parents with young children, single parents, family caregivers, mature workers, at-risk youth, ex-offenders, individuals with disabilities, including veterans , and people with HIV/AIDS. Click here to read more.
US LABOR DEPARTMENT AWARDS GRANT TO ESTABLISH ACCESSIBLE TECHNOLOGY ACTION CENTER
Last month,the U.S. Department of Labor announced an award of a $950,000 grant to the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America in Arlington, Va., to establish the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Accessible Technology Action Center, a national resource that will facilitate and promote the use of accessible technology in the hiring, employment, retention and career advancement of individuals with disabilities. The Accessible Technology Action Center will expand access to information and communication technologies in the workplace for people with disabilities. It will promote the knowledge, technical skills, tools and leadership strategies needed to address accessibility issues and seek to raise awareness of the impact critical accessible workplace technologies have on competitive employment opportunities. Click here to read more.
DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT MODEL HIGHLIGHTED AT LOWE’S REGIONAL DISTRIBUTION CENTER
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett on October 10 highlighted Lowe’s employment and training program for persons with disabilities while on a tour of Lowe’s regional distribution center in Pittston, Luzerne County. The intensive multi-week outreach program offers training and job coaching for citizens with physical and intellectual disabilities. The Department of Labor & Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, along with The ARC of Luzerne County, helps recruit employees and provides funding for job coaching. Job coaches maintain contact and provide support throughout the employee’s tenure with the company.
BUSINESSES URGED TO HIRE MORE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
According to the Center for Workforce Properties, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, placing 10 severely persons with disabilities in jobs costs the federal government $120,000, but saves taxpayers $470,000 a year in reduced social services. Still, even with an array of benefits, employers have been slow to add more workers with disabilities to their ranks, advocates say.
MENTORING PROGRAM AVAILABLE FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYEES WITH DISABILITIES
In honor of National Disability Mentoring Day, FEDs (Federal Employees with Disabilities) announces the launch of the FEDs Mentoring Program. This mentoring program will focus on students and professionals with disabilities with the goal of establishing a solid program for 20-25 college students and 20-25 Federal employees. Established in 2012 by experts in the field, FEDs is a private membership organization committed to ensuring the rights, privileges, benefits and opportunities of people with disabilities employed by the Federal government are equal to those of their Federal sector peers. Its members recognize the urgent need for a unified, grassroots response to the widespread, continuous employment challenges faced by people with disabilities. Mentor and/or Mentee requests are due November 16, 2012. Visit http://fedsfirst.com/Mentoring.php%20 for mentoring application forms, guidance and tools on the FEDs Mentoring Program.
MORE BREAST CANCER SURVIVORS RETURNING SUCCESSFULLY TO WORK AFTER SHORT TERM DISABILITY LEAVE
In recognition of October marking National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Unum, a principal provider of disability benefits throughout the workplace, has released data indicating that more than twice as many individuals who have fought breast cancer are returning to their jobs after short-term disability leave. The trend is not the same for individuals on long-term disability leave due to breast cancer. Through research and education, Unum offers guidance to companies around how they can support employees through cancer diagnosis and treatment, and assist those workers with returning successfully to work. Click here to read more.
*In September 2012, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 27.7% for persons with disabilities compared with 70.8% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 43.1%, not seasonally adjusted.
NATIONAL DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH KICKS OFF ACROSS NATION
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is upon us! Held annually in October, NDEAM is a time to celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities, and organizations across the country are participating in a variety of ways. The theme for this year’s observance is “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?”
Read Assistant Secretary Martinez’s NDEAM blog post — “The Value of Work”
Watch Assistant Secretary Martinez’s video address
Get NDEAM resources and learn how your organization can participate
“WHAT CAN YOU DO?” FOR NDEAM: BEST PRACTICES IN ACTION
The following articles were submitted by NAVAIR Recruitment and Retention Program, Department of Navy and CSC Corporation in response to EARN’s request for employer best practices and observances of NDEAM:
NAVAIR’S SPECIAL RECRUITMENT BRANCH
On 18 January 2012, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) signed a joint memorandum of understanding with the Department of Navy’s Office of Civilian Human Resources (OCHR) and the Army Support Activity at Fort Sam Houston to serve as the lead sponsor in helping wounded warriors transition from the military to the civilian workplace. Specifically, this effort is designed to recruit and train wounded warriors transitioning out of the Army Support Activity at Fort Sam and the surrounding San Antonio medical treatment facilities. During quarterly onsite visits and follow-up telephone and email discussions, NAVAIR and (OCHR) representatives have helped veterans build their resumes and match them with job openings. As a result of this partnership, NAVAIR has hired eight wounded warriors. Click here to learn more about NAVAIR.
CSC POSTS GRASSROOTS OBSERVANCE OF NATIONAL DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH
On October 24, CSC will host a group of students with disabilities from the Brandywine, Christiana, Red Clay and New Castle County Vo-Tech high schools at their facility in Newark, Delaware in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Disability Mentoring Day. Disability Mentoring Day is a program established by the American Association of People with Disabilities that is observed nationwide each October to give high school students with disabilities exposure to the workplace. Each year at CSC employees in Delaware volunteer to serve as mentors to students with disabilities for the day to teach them about the world of work. Some of the students participating in CSC’s Disability Mentoring Day will become involved in the annual Bender Leadership Academy hosted by CSC in Delaware, which teaches leadership skills to youth with disabilities. “The benefits of participating in Disability Mentoring Day as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month are twofold,” says Leanne Thomas, CSC’s Program Liaison. “Students with disabilities learn about competitive careers in their area of interest and what it takes to successfully prepare for those roles; and CSC engages with the next generation of people with disabilities, who have the potential to be part of our future workforce. It is a win-win situation.” Click here to learn more about CSC.
Congratulations and thank you to NAVAIR and CSC for their dedicated efforts in employing people with disabilities!
DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT EFFORT GETS BOOST
More than $20 million is headed to states to expand a program designed to help people with disabilities gain a foothold in the workplace. Officials at the U.S. Department of Labor said the new funding will establish the “Disability Employment Initiative” in seven new states — Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island. The federal program, which is already in place in 16 states, offers grants to enhance training and educational opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities who are unemployed, underemployed or receiving Social Security benefits.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to today’s workforce,” said Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. “Enhancing the workforce system’s ability to provide effective coordinated and collaborative service delivery will help to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the employment training and supports they need to achieve self-sufficiency.”
INCREASE IN DISABILITY CASES MEANS HR MUST FOCUS ON ACCOMMODATIONS, JOB DESCRIPTIONS
With the increase in employees filing disability claims and the fact that more medical conditions are now covered under the amended Americans with Disabilities Act, human resources practitioners must increase their efforts to update job descriptions and work with managers on addressing requests for reasonable accommodations. Managers must periodically be reminded to respond appropriately when it appears that an employee might need an accommodation—regardless of whether he or she uses the legal language when making a request. In addition, job descriptions should be updated to reflect the essential functions of each position. Judy Young, assistant director of training and development at the ILR school’s Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University, suggested that employers “revisit” job descriptions, based on the ADAAA, “and determine what essential functions of the job are, including hours of work and where the job needs to be done. It’s about flexibility.” Click here to read more.
ODEP AND USBLN RENEW ALLIANCE AGREEMENT
Earlier this month, ODEP and the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) renewed their Alliance to work together to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The Alliance agreement was signed by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez and USBLN Executive Director Jill Houghton during the opening of the USBLN’s 15th Annual Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida. Read the DOL newsletter story.
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U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy