By Sarah Meyerson, Career Services Coordinator at Search Inc.
Ghosts, Ghouls and Goblins, oh my! October is flying by fast but there’s nothing scary about NDEAM! This month isn’t just about tricks and treats, it’s also when we celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).
This year’s theme is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” In current discussions about diversity and equity in workplaces across the country, one group is often still glaringly absent from the conversation; people with disabilities (PWD). That is what makes NDEAM so important for agencies like Search who provide employment services. This month champions the work that people with disabilities do and highlights their contributions to many industries. NDEAM also encourages businesses to invest in PWD as part of diversifying and leveling the field for potential employees. What the business communities in the US still seem to be unaware of and the NDEAM initiative strives to assist with, is educating businesses how much hiring PWD will benefit them by aiding in retention, improving morale and cultivating a stronger workforce.
Did you know that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics that in 2022 “only 21.3% of Americans age 16 and over with disabilities were working or actively looking for work? That is far below the 67.1% rate for Americans without disabilities.” At Search, the Career Services team works daily to put a dent in that disparity. Last year we provided job placement and support services to 49 people total, and this year we are already serving 35 people in our first quarter of this fiscal year. That number is growing at this very moment!
The people we support, and the overall PWD population, are truly an untapped resource to businesses. Adults with disabilities have been proven to have higher retention rates, like Henry D. who just celebrated 4 years at his job and John T. who has been at his job for 20+ years! These two individuals rarely miss work, and are known to be reliable, helpful and an integral member of their teams.
Diversifying workplaces by hiring people with disabilities has also been shown to improve company morale and overall culture, like Katy W. being awarded employee of the month at her job after only working there for 4 months. Her managers consistently mention how optimism at their location is up considerably because she brings such a fun and positive attitude to work every shift.
Speaking of Katy, she was one of 18 people the Career Services team placed in the last fiscal year, a new placement record! Part of that success was due to us taking advantage of the employment boom that we saw at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022. The job market is continuing to do well and as we observe certain industries like retail and food service have massive staff shortages, it is a good time for us to get in there and approach businesses about all of the benefits of diversifying their workforce.
With our eyes fixed towards the future, the Career Services team seeks to place more individuals and continue to expand opportunities as well as the range of businesses Search partners with. NDEAM is a wonderful way to celebrate how far we’ve come, but also looking forwards goals for the future.
A big thank you to all the individuals who prove every day how much they contribute to their workplaces just by bringing their skills, dedication, positive attitudes and loyalty. It’s a privilege for this team to support your goals and advocate with you and for you!