CLIENT NEWS Services to Enhance Potential (STEP), 

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month which gives us a chance to celebrate companies that employ people with disabilities and embrace diversity and inclusion practices, and raise awareness for those companies that don’t.  Services to Enhance Potential (STEP) and other Community Rehabilitation Organizations, are preparing individuals with developmental disabilities for these opportunities.  Every day these organizations work with thousands of individuals with disabilities helping prepare them for work opportunities.  Additionally, efforts are taken to work with the potential employer to assure the individual’s transition to the work place is a smooth one and the employer needs continue to be met.  

Companies that employ adults with disabilities that STEP has worked with include: Stonecrest, Gentleman’s BoxEDPChildtime, and the Livonia – Embassy Suites, among others. 

More than 80 percent of people with disabilities in Michigan, and more than 70 percent nationwide, are unemployed. Many of these individuals want to work, they just need to find the company that will hire them. 

While many companies struggle to fill the skills gap or even retain talent, there is no excuse for not hring someone with a disability. Talk to any CEO who has hired a person with an intellectual or physical disability and they will tell you that that person is: dedicated, productive, and loyal.

If companies can’t train people with a disability for a particular job, there are organizations, many not-for profit, such as STEP that can step in to train them.

Students in their last year of high school also have opportunities to participate in several Employment Transition programs including; Project SEARCH, and other work experience programs.  

Project SEARCH is a national evidenced based employment model designed to take graduating seniors and place them a host site’s work setting for their last year of school.  Since 2010, with the support  DTE, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, and Henry Ford College, the programs have achieved a job placement rate of over 80%.  

We have made tremendous progress since the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed 25 years ago. However, a disability should not define a job candidate. We need to continue to support funding for special education, high school transition programs.  Companies that have hired people with a disability need to speak up and speak out as to what it was a great business decision and we all need to think beyond the label, and encourage Michigan companies to support and celebrate workplace policies of diversity and inclusion.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) the number of adults with disabilities is projected to increase by nearly one-quarter million from 2,147,000 in 2011 to 2,392,000 in 2030. That means the labor market will continue to grow for some top talent to fill the gaps in employment today, including thousands living with an intellectual or physical disability.

In the meantime, business today can take the necessary steps to support diversity and inclusion and identify the jobs and job opportunities to train a new generation of workers who are ready, willing and able to work. Together, let’s show that#inclusionworks.