I have worked with disabled individuals in obtaining employment as an Employment Specialist Director for over 5 years and had positions with Workforce Development and Career Development over 10 years and there is a common thread for disabled individuals that keep them or establish barriers for them to obtain substantial employment. Prior to the COVID 19 virus, it would take over 4 months for individuals to obtain decent employment due to: not working over 5 years, not having updated computer skills, not having the skill sets or outdated skill sets to obtain employment, the complexity of technology to apply for jobs online, and their disability(ies) limit them to specific jobs that they could apply for. From my own experience and would believe that other professionals who are working with the disabled are understanding what I am saying. It is not just an individual experience, other professionals who work with the disabled are experiencing this as well. Then on the other hand, due to these barriers, the individuals who are disabled are discouraged as well. They have all of these barriers and hoops they have to jump through in order to, at least get an entry-level job or to be eligible to get a job. The average time it takes for a disabled individual to get a job can take from 4 months to about 2 years, on average. The current employment system is not sensitive to these barriers and some don't even want to deal with it. The Covid-19 virus opened a new frontier for disabled individuals to work at home, but then due to limited financial resources, they are not able to update their current technology equipment, don't have current technology skills, don't have the money to go to school to update their basic computer skills, and I can go on.
I truly believe with total cooperation and collaboration and buy-in from the Federal and State government to support this situation with a solution along with the help of employers and other workforce professionals addressing these issues/barriers in creating a model that will help disabled individuals to obtain employment by addressing the barriers listed above. We all want to accomplish the same goal, which is providing services and supports that will give those with disabilities the final result/outcome, which is to give them tools that promote financial stability and empowerment.
1. Provide Online Interactive Job Preparation Training on Technology Used in Applying for a Job
A lot of the disabled are out of touch with today's technology processes that are required to apply or obtain a job (online application processing, uploading their resume, designing their resume according to industry guidelines & standards, learning new technology for video presentations, preparing to interview virtually, practice using different platforms that you may need for interviews and/or work, etc.). All of these things require the first, desire to learn, and the second, time to learn them efficiently. If there was a national online job preparation training program that is interactive and provides immediate feedback, would be a great asset to the individual looking for work and put them on a level that they can compete with others in confidence.
2. Establish a National Database According to States that Provide Various Levels of Jobs for Disabled Individuals
To establish a nationwide job listing database that lists the job's specific to individual states, from an entry-level, basic level, intermediate level, and advanced level and makes it accessible to disabled individuals and professionals who work with the disabled in obtaining employment. And that this database could provide disabled individuals job leads for potential jobs according to their employment skills experience. In addition, the jobs listed are from employers who are aware that the potential applicant is disabled and also lists the types of disabilities that they can provide reasonable accommodation. This alone cuts the red tape for those who apply and would decrease the turn-around time in receiving employment opportunities from months to days.
3. Provide Technology Support Services for Those Who Want to Work Remotely
Remote jobs are here to stay but what stops individuals from obtaining these jobs is that they do not have the equipment needed to do these jobs. As you know, they are barely taking care of their basic essentials and do not have any extra to accommodate the technical equipment to do the job, especially if they have the skills to execute the daily job duties. If there was a way for the companies who are looking for individuals for remote jobs to provide the equipment they would need to do the job and express this information in the job summary, this would eliminate the barrier for applying for the position. Or, the government provides a service that the individual could lease the equipment, at a minimal cost for the remote job and return when not in use.
4. The American Career Centers Provide Computer Training Including How to Use the Internet
To make it mandatory to provide disabled individuals with computer technology training for basic, intermediate, and advanced levels in Microsoft Word, Excel, and how to navigate on the Internet.
5. To Have Companies Who Would Be Listed in the National Database Provide Job Training for the Job Listed
If the Government decides to establish this database proposed earlier, that the companies would provide interactive online job preparation training to the individual in order to get him/her up to speed in doing the job he/she was hired for.
I truly believe, that if you would consider some or all of these proposed solutions that would prepare individuals with disabilities with the preparatory skill sets and streamline the job search process, you would see a definite increase of those disabled working, which will improve and increase motivation to move forward in obtaining financial stability and empowerment.
If you would like to talk more about this, I can be reached by using: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your listening ear and hope to hear from you.