PARTNERING WITH COMMUNITY COLLEGES: INITIATIVES, INCLUSION, INVOLVEMENT
In a competitive, global economy that increas¬ingly requires job seekers to acquire at least some postsecondary education, the nation’s 1,132 community colleges are regarded as the “backbone” of the public work¬force system, according to a new report from the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers.
President Obama set a goal for the United States to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 and identified community colleges as key players in achieving this goal. Focusing on a review of federal, national, and local efforts that nurture community college partnerships with employers, the report reveals that recent research and policy analysis has resulted in an increased understanding of the dynamics of community colleges, their students, and their role in local labor markets. The report also highlights the impor¬tance of ensuring that community college training and education reflects the needs of employers and enables students and job seekers to connect with and keep jobs. Additionally, the report recommends the need to increase the inclusion and involvement of people with disabilities in community college-employer partnerships and provides a federally funded resource for doing so. By partnering more closely with employers, com¬munity colleges can help prepare workers, including individuals with disabilities, with education and training that is directly relevant to employment opportunities.
Statistics provide power, according to Dr. Cherise Hunter, social science research analyst with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). In the most recent installation of the DOL’s blog (Work in Progress), Dr. Hunter speaks to the importance of data in understanding disability prevalence, trends around disability issues, disability policy and planning needs, and the wide range of data sources used to create policy initiatives that ultimately lead to ODEP’s goal of advancing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
REPORT HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF WORKPLACE WELLNESS PROGRAMS ADDRESSING SUBSTANCE ABUSE DISORDERS
Two SAMHSA reports show that while many employers have policies and programs addressing substance-use disorders, many of the 10.8 million full-time workers with these issues may not be receiving help in the workplace. To reduce risky or unhealthy practices, SAMHSA promotes screening, brief interventions, and referral to treatment. SAMHSA maintains that early identification with subsequent intervention can promote health and save lives.
EVOLVING VIEWS ON DISABILITY DISCLOSURE IN THE WORKPLACE
With the recent changes to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, many employers may be confused about whether they can ask an employee about a disability, fearing that such questions may conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits these inquiries. Cornell University’s Senior Extension Associate, Hannah Rudstam, clarified that “Under the ADA, employers have always been allowed to ask applicants and employees to voluntarily self-identify as a persons with a disability as long as certain guidelines are followed.” Rudstam and Erin M. Sember-Chase, technical assistance coordinator for EARN and the Northeast ADA Center at Cornell University, elaborate on the importance of employers building a “climate of trust” and how attitudes toward disability disclosure are shifting as businesses diversify their workforce and create more inclusive environments.
BOOTS TO BUSINESS: HELPING VETERANS BECOME AMERICA’S FUTURE BUSINESS LEADERS
“Boots to Business: From Service to Startup” is a new program established by the Small Business Administration “to help veterans become America’s future entrepreneurs and business leaders.” The free training program provides transitioning service members with an opportunity to learn the basics of entrepreneurship and strategies for owning a small business. All transitioning members, regardless of rank or transition stage, and their spouses and dependents can participate in the program.
BARCLAYS LAUNCHES RETURN ON DISABILITY ETNs
On September 10, 2014, Barclays Bank PLC announced the launch of the Barclays Return on Disability Exchange Traded Notes, also known as ETNs. The ETNs are linked to the performance of the Return on Disability (US LargeCap ETN Total Return USD Index), and are designed to provide investors with exposure to US-based companies that have acted to attract and serve people with disabilities as customers and employees. “Approximately 57 million people in the US have a disability–that’s 19% of the population. Companies that invest in targeting and empowering this group offer advantages over the companies that don’t,” said Sue Meirs, Director in Equities and Funds Structured Markets, and Americas co-chair of Barclays’s disability employee network, REACH. ETNs allow investors to invest in socially-responsible themes that can help catalyze change across many companies.
Disability Employment Statistics
|Employment rate of persons ages 16-64 with disabilities
|Employment rate of persons ages 16-64 without disabilities
Employment Gap: 46.0%
*In August 2014, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 26.2% for persons with disabilities compared with 72.2% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 46.0%, not seasonally adjusted.
COUNTDOWN TO NDEAM
Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is an annual campaign led by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to raise awareness about employing people with disabilities and to celebrate their many and varied contributions to America’s workforce. The campaign’s theme this year was developed with suggestions from the public through an online dialogue. “I’m so pleased with the result,” writes Assistant Secretary Kathleen Martinez in her blog (Work in Progress), “because those three words–expect, employ, empower–clearly convey that advancing disability employment is about more than any singular thing. Rather, it’s about creating a cycle of inclusion.”
TOOLS TO EDUCATE BUSINESS IN 30 SECONDS
As part of ongoing technical assistance, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) Technical Assistance Team, National Disability Institute (NDI), created the Employment and Disability 30-Second Training Series and complementary Business Resource Guide. These resources are designed to educate employers, hiring managers, and supervisors about proven strategies and easy-to-use resources to hire, retain, and advance e existing employees who experience the onset of a disability or who have existing disabilities. These tools will provide valuable information to businesses.
WEBINAR, “DO ASK, DO TELL” FOCUSES ON SELF-ID
EARN and The Conference Board will host a free webinar on Monday, September 22 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. EDT on fostering self-identification. Employers will learn how to build an inclusive workplace where employees feel safe disclosing that they have a disability while also meeting the new federal requirements for government contractors. Results of a survey conducted by The Conference Board on behalf of EARN will be shared regarding practices and experiences related to encouraging disclosure. Registration is free. HRCI credits will be available to participants. A code will be provided for HRCI credit at the conclusion of the webinar.
DEADLINE EXTENDED FOR 4th ANNUAL MY AMERICAN DREAM VIDEO CONTEST
National Disability Institute (NDI) recently announced it has extended the entry deadline for its 4th Annual My American Dream: Voices of Americans with Disabilities Video Contest to September 23, 2014. The contest encourages people with disabilities to share their American dreams for a chance to win $1,000, a digital tablet, and sessions with a mentor to help make those dreams a reality.