People in the Workforce
 

 


           

 

Disabled people, people who are more likely to be overlooked in the workforce, is a great category of people who will help decrease unemployment rates in the economy.  It has been documented that when people with disabilities are given a chance to work, they provide long lasting loyalty in staying with their employer, doing a job well done, and even exceeding expectations.[1]  People with disabilities provide diversity in the workforce, as well.  With much more diversity in the workforce, firms can get a better grasp of other opportunities with consumers in the market place.  If more firms, companies, and businesses consider on employing more people with disabilities the economy would develop a more harmonious and hopeful environment.  

            In 1998, it was documented that people from the ages of twenty one to sixty-four with non-severe disability had the rate of 76.9% of incurring a job in the workforce.  That rate drops to 26.1% for those with a severe disability.  Out of 17.2 million people with a work disability between the ages of 16 and 64, only 34% are in the labor force.  So the unemployment rate for people with disabilities in the workforce is 12.3%.[2]  If you consider all of these statistics from 1998, 652,000 people in the labor force are not working.  Just imagine if they were working the production and output of firms and business would be boasted to a maximum. 

            The main reasons why people with disabilities are overlooked are because of myths, misconceptions, and the way people with disabilities are perceived.  For example one myth or misconception is that employees with disabilities are less productive.  Which in fact is untrue.  Not all employees with disabilities are less productive.  Actually most strive to close perfection to maintain business goals and objectives.  Another misconception is that disabled employees require more days off for sickness and medical care.  This is also a false impression on how people with disabilities are in the workforce.  Many of the misconceptions of people with disabilities are beginning to be educated more out in the public for employers to visualize and realize that most of these misconceptions are not true. A company by the name of EmployABILITIES, a Canadian nonprofit job placement resource, is one of the companies trying to promote the falseness of misconceptions and myths.[3]

            Through recent studies, staffing companies, such as Manpower, Link Staffing Services, Olsten Staffing Services and HirePotential are helping the progress of employing those with disabilities.  What they do is ask the people with disabilities to take skills assessment tests.  If there skills match to a particular job opening they would place them on the assignment.  Manpower has helped 60% of the disabled people retain a full-time employment position during the University of Iowa case study of disabled people in the workforce.[4]  Manpower would also do something different from the other staffing companies.  They would match appropriate skills and place the person with a disability with that opening, but they would not disclose a person’s disability to client companies.  They would look at the skills the person brings to the job opening, not the disability.  “I knew they were intelligent, competent people who had a lot to contribute to their community, and I knew Link Staffing Services would help the residents become re-established in working society,” says Laura Copezolle, employment specialist from Palm Beach Habilitation Center.[5]

            A prestigious corporation that believes people with disabilities is an asset to the economy and to their firm is Marriott International, Inc.  Marriott was a pioneer in promoting disabled accessibility in its hotels long before the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 mandated such practices.  Richard Marriott, now the chairman of the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities says, “Diversity is valued and respected at Marriott as a critical element in building the strongest possible workforce, the company’s lifeblood.”[6]  He believes that focusing on what the individuals can do rather than on their limitations, one is able to effectively and appropriately match the person to the job.   This implies to people with disabilities.  Coming from a well established, best rated company in the world they must know what they are doing.  Marriott also helps people with disabilities gain experience and training with their signature program, Bridges.  Here they take high school graduates and give them an opportunity to have a position in their company. 

Marriott is not the only one to acknowledge that people with disabilities is a great portion of the labor force that is lost.  Elaine L. Chao, nation’s 24th Secretary of Labor, believes that disability never bars a qualified person from the workplace.  Her first role as Secretary of Labor was to help improve the workforce.  So she has initiated a new program to do so called “21st Century Workforce Initiative”.  The mission of the 21st Century Workforce Initiative is to ensure that every worker has as fulfilling and financially rewarding a career as they aspire to have and to make sure that no worker gets left behind in the limitless potential of the dynamic, global economy of this new millennium.  She has also opened up the Office of Disability Employment Policy.  For the year 2002, it has a budget of $20.3 million to help people with disabilities.  “It is not only important to give people with disabilities training and access to assistive technology, but also the ability to become active citizens in their communities,” says Elaine L. Chao.[7]

In conclusion to disabled people in the workforce, they are an aspect of the economy we should all be aware of.  They have the potential to help improve unemployment rates, help provide loyalty to firms and businesses, and most of all an opportunity to help in our communities.

 

Bibliography

Chartbook on Work and Disability in the United States, 1998

                                    28 Mar 2001. 19 April 2001 <http://www.infouse.com/

                                    disabilitydata/workdisability_2_2.html

 

Office of Disability Employment Policy U.S. Department of Labor

                                    11 April 2001. 22 May 2001 <http://www50.pcepd.gov/pce

                                    d/about/about.htm

 

Reeder, Jeff.  The Disabled: 26 Million People Looking for Work

2000-2001 20 May 2001 <http://www.sireview.com/articles/

disabled.html>

 

Williams, John M. Business Week Online Story: A Chat with Richard

Marriott.  22 Sept 1999. 22 Apr 2001 <http://www.businessweek. com>

 

 

 



[1] Reeder, Jeff.  The Disabled: 26 Million People Looking for Work

2000-2001 20 May 2001 <http://www.sireview.com/articles/

disabled.html>

               

[2] Chartbook on Work and Disability in the United States, 1998

                28 Mar 2001. 19 April 2001 <http://www.infouse.com/

                disabilitydata/workdisability_2_2.html

[3] Reeder, Jeff.  The Disabled: 26 Million People Looking for Work

2000-2001 20 May 2001 <http://www.sireview.com/articles/

disabled.html>

 

[4] Reeder, Jeff.  The Disabled: 26 Million People Looking for Work

2000-2001 20 May 2001 <http://www.sireview.com/articles/

disabled.html>

 

[5] Reeder, Jeff.  The Disabled: 26 Million People Looking for Work

2000-2001 20 May 2001 <http://www.sireview.com/articles/

disabled.html>

 

[6] Williams, John M. Business Week Online Story: A Chat with Richard

                Marriott.  22 Sept 1999. 22 Apr 2001 <http://www.businessweek.com>

[7] Office of Disability Employment Policy U.S. Department of Labor

                11 April 2001. 22 May 2001 <http://www50.pcepd.gov/pce

                d/about/about.htm