By: Joni Schmalzried
Employment is one of AWS Foundation’s primary initiatives. We recognize the value that individuals with varying abilities bring to the workplace and believe in ‘employment first’ for individuals with disabilities. We fund many organizations throughout NE Indiana that have a focus on employment for the individuals they serve. The amazing service providers in our region continue to work and build employment programs and opportunities. However, without a doubt, individuals with disabilities are underpaid, under-employed, and under-utilized.
With all the things we ‘know’ you would think we would see a larger impact on employment. Why isn’t that happening? What is that black hole that lives between what we know and what we do?
The employment gap is not a blame game – pockets of people, organizations, businesses, and providers understand that people with disabilities make great employees. We have some amazing employers committed to hiring. The problem is that our communities need some key businesses to go all in to make a dent. Commit to train your executives, HR people, and staff. Move from complicated online applications to one that is more accessible. Talk with others who have entered this hiring arena, learn from them. Work with a local service provider, an agency who specializes in the disability workforce, or Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
Community businesses need employees, people with disabilities need job opportunities. A million people with disabilities lost their jobs during the pandemic…a million people chose to leave their jobs last month. Math is not my strength, but the employee shortage at this time is undeniable. As a community, we need to step up in the employment arena. Are you interested, but not sure where to start? Give me a call.