Pennsylvania’s Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation is participating in several events to celebrate and raise awareness about inclusive employment.

“This month of recognition highlights the benefits of hiring people with disabilities for employers who may not have considered this valuable resource of employees,” Labor and Industry Secretary Julia Hearthway said. “It also lets people know how OVR is helping people with disabilities gain entry to the workforce and emphasizes the no cost resources it has available to businesses who want to meet their workforce needs by hiring Pennsylvanians with disabilities.”

One of the highlighted events is the PA Disability Employment and Empowerment Summit (PADES) from October 23-25 in Camp Hill, PA. PADES brings together businesses, government agencies, service providers, and people with disabilities to discuss the challenges and successes of inclusive employment and to make suggestions for systems improvements. The workshops explore the value that people with disabilities bring to the workforce.

Other events include the Philadelphia OVR Disability Mentoring Day with KPMG on October 23 and the York OVR District Office Job Fair at the York HACC campus on October 25.

In keeping with the national recognition of Disability Employment Awareness Month, Governor Corbett proclaimed October to be Disability Employment Awareness Month. His proclamation, which says that “all Pennsylvanians should have the opportunity to live and work with dignity, freedom, and economic self-sufficiency,” takes an important step toward creating an inclusive workforce. However, there is much work still to be done to close the disparity gap among unemployed people with disabilities.

To learn more about PA’s Disability Employment Awareness Month activities and to read Governor Corbett’s proclamation, read the PA Department of Labor and Industry’s press release.

Why Should a Business Hire Someone with a Disability?

The theme of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October 2013) is “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task,” meaning people with disabilities can be and are successful in the workplace. They have the education, training, and the desire.

Let us take a moment to look at that theme from another perspective. Businesses all require one thing: getting the job done. Getting the job done means that the task is the primary focus. Every task may not be for everyone, but everyone can accomplish a task. Regardless of what that task may be, there is someone who can complete it.

People from all walks of life experience challenges, and businesses still expect them to perform their job. The challenges an individual is experiencing do not necessarily interfere with their ability to do their job. That expectation remains the same for someone with a disability.

Finding the right person for the job is a business’s first priority. This mindset is based on a business’s need for high productivity, low turnover, low absenteeism, and low tardiness. This in turn results in high profitability. It has been proven that people with disabilities are the most dedicated, hard-working, and diligent employees that businesses have.

Shari Wharton of BelFor Restoration in Middletown, Pennsylvania has hired a person with a disability to fill a position, and she said that she is “pleased with the fact that the employee displayed enthusiasm and loyalty, as opposed to someone [without disabilities] taking the job for granted.”

“Employees from Gateway are valuable assets,” said Harry Hauptman of Chapel Pointe in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. (Gateway Employment Group provides supported employment services for people with disabilities.)

In addition to gaining a valuable employee, businesses can take advantage of various federal programs that encourage recruiting and hiring people with disabilities, which in turn makes businesses eligible for tax credits.

The links below have more information about these tax credits.

Employing people with disabilities is not only a way to expand your business, but it will enhance your business. You will gain a dedicated, hard-working employee who will help carry your business into the future.