In this section of the Employer Assistance and Resource Network monthly newsletter, EARN recognizes employers’ successful practices for outreach, recruitment, hiring, and accommodating workers with disabilities. EARN invites employers who would like to highlight their effective practices in employing people with disabilities to submit articles for future issues of the EARN newsletter. This month, EARN spotlights NASA for working with the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), a no-cost recruitment resource, to recruit and hire qualified people with disabilities.
INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE YIELDS HUGE DIVIDENDS
Early in life, Adam Beach decided that he wanted to work in the aerospace field to design and build satellites, and he never lost sight of that goal.
Adam attended college to earn a degree in electrical engineering and became successful by making schoolwork his priority. Working extremely hard in his classes, spending countless hours studying, and focusing on mathematics and equations proved to be effective strategies.
Adam knew he needed a practical, real-world internship in order to land a job in the aerospace industry. In addition to sending resumes to the NASA centers and big aerospace companies, he also interviewed to be part of the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). WRP is a no-cost recruitment resource containing profiles of over 2900 college students and recent graduates, and is available to public and private employers seeking a diverse workforce of individuals with disabilities. Adam was thrilled when NASA Headquarters offered him a summer internship working on spacecraft communication systems in the Office of the Chief Engineer in Washington, D.C. This outstanding opportunity provided him with valuable industry experience working on current and future communication systems standards. Adam also supported several outreach events, including NASA’s 50th Anniversary during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. and NASA’s Day on Capitol Hill.
Following Adam’s internship with NASA Headquarters, he spent two co-op tours with NASA Goddard working in the Power Systems Branch designing DC-DC power converters and spacecraft magnetics. In this role, he designed a power transformer for the Express Logistics Carrier, which is now attached to the International Space Station. He also worked on a discontinuous flyback converter for the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite (FASTAT).
Adam’s experiences at NASA, coupled with a solid education, helped launch him into a full-time career with the Orbital Science Corporation. Currently, he is a Spacecraft Power Systems Design Engineer at Orbital. As a young engineer, Adam is quick to recognize this rewarding career, and he is thankful for the encouragement and support offered by WRP.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released job discrimination data for fiscal year 2012. Disability discrimination charges were at 26,379, or 26.5 percent of all charges. For the first time, the EEOC released new data tables showing the impairments/bases for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Click here to read more.
COLLEGES REALIGN PROGRAMS TO MEET EMPLOYERS’ NEEDS
“Reclaiming the American Dream,” a landmark report released by the American Association of Community Colleges’ 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges found that there is often a mismatch between students’ goals and what employers in their communities need. However, a growing number of two-year colleges are tackling that issue by better aligning educational programs with the local labor market, strengthening student advising services and creating alternative, flexible programs to get students onto a productive career path. Click here to read more.
OMB OUTLINES STRATEGIC PLAN FOR MANAGING SECTION 508 REQUIREMENTS
The Office of Management and Budget last month issued a memo outlining a strategic plan to improve agencies’ management of Section 508 requirements, including in technology and acquisitions. According to the memo, the strategic plan “provides a more comprehensive and structured approach” that will “help agencies create the framework to make these necessary improvements to their Electronic Information Technology (EIT) accessibility programs and increase transparency.” Section 508 refers to the provisions in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was later amended in 1998 (The Reauthorized Rehabilitation Act of 1998), to require agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Click here to read more.
FROM ACCOMMODATION TO INCLUSION
In an article from www.Diversity-Executive.com, Patrick Hyland and Pete Rutigliano write that understanding the experiences of workers with disabilities is a starting point for making everyone feel more respected. According to a study conducted by the Kessler Foundation, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) and Harris Interactive, less than 30 percent of companies have disability-specific diversity policies or programs in place. In light of several potential legislative changes and demographic trends, many diversity leaders seek to raise awareness about the challenges employees with disabilities face and ensure their organizations are doing everything they can to build a culture of inclusion. Click here to read more.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MARTINEZ: REFLECTING ON CONNECTIONS BETWEEN PEOPLE
In her blog (Work in Progress), Assistant Secretary Kathleen Martinez writes:
“In the critically acclaimed film, “The Sessions,” actor and Golden Globe nominee John Hawkes delivers a sensitive and moving portrayal of real-life journalist and poet Mark O’Brien. As a result of contracting polio as a child, O’Brien was paralyzed from the neck down and dependent on an iron lung, which he could leave for only limited amounts of time. While the film is partly about living with physical limitations, it is also about something much more profound — how the connections forged between people have the power to lift the spirit, despite the considerable challenges life can bring. Hawkes agreed to share his reflections on this fundamental part of the human experience in a submission to “What’s Your Connection?”, a national grassroots initiative that invites everyone — famous or not — to help illustrate the importance of connections among all people, including people with disabilities.”
*In January 2013, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 27.0% for persons with disabilities compared with 69.7% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 42.8%, not seasonally adjusted.
FMLA CELEBRATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY, KEY FINDINGS RELEASED
To mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the landmark Family and Medical Leave Act, the U.S. Department of Labor released the results of a survey on its use and impact. “Family and Medical Leave Act in 2012: Final Report,” shows that the law has had a positive effect on the lives of millions of workers and their families without imposing an undue burden on employers. Click here to read more on the survey.
The U.S. Department of Labor also issued a final rule implementing two important expansions of FMLA protections. The first expansion provides families of eligible veterans with the same job-protected FMLA leave currently available to families of military service members and it also enables more military families to take leave for activities that arise when a service member is deployed. The second expansion modifies existing rules so that airline personnel and flight crews are better able to make use of the FMLA’s protections. Employers may also see an increase in employee requests to care for adult children with disabilities. Read the press release.
GRANT EXPANDS MENTORING PROGRAM
The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) and the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) received a two-year grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF) to support the expansion of the Career Link Mentoring Program, which is designed to offer career guidance for college students and recent graduates with disabilities. This grant will focus on veterans with disabilities and students and graduates who are majoring in science, technology, engineering, and math. Click here to read more.
NEW REPORT FINDS WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES ADD BUSINESS BENEFITS
EARN WEBINAR ON FEB. 28 FOCUSES ON OUTREACH, RECRUITMENT
The first webinar in EARN’s 2013 free series is scheduled for Thursday, February 28 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST. “Build the Pipeline: Effective Disability Outreach & Recruitment” focuses on building relationships with academic and community organizations, strategies for developing specific talent sourcing, and the value of establishing and maintaining formal tracking and reporting procedures. HRCI credits will be available to participants. To register for this free webinar, click here.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has released the proceedings from its Manufacturing Sector Summit: “Keeping America Competitive: Addressing the Skills Gap in Manufacturing.” The Summit was held on June 24, 2012, in collaboration with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and ODEP and DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), under the leadership of Assistant Secretaries Kathleen Martinez and Jane Oates. The event was attended by more than 270 participants in human resources at manufacturing companies nationwide who heard a diverse cross section of speakers from government, manufacturing, and HR address skills gap solutions such as recruiting and hiring candidates with disabilities, including returning veterans. Read the Manufacturing Sector Summit Proceedings report.
DISABILITY BENCHMARKING TOOL COMING IN 2013
Employers who want to know how their company’s disability inclusion and accessibility policies and practices stack up against those of other U.S. businesses will have a new tool to use for benchmarking in 2013. The U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) announced plans in December to establish the “Disability Equality Index,” a national disability benchmarking tool. Although the tool is still being developed and an exact 2013 release date has not yet been set, the USBLN and the AAPD said the forthcoming index will provide employers with a transparent, objective roadmap for improving opportunities for people with disabilities. The index is expected to provide a way for companies to benchmark progress and identify avenues for improvement, and help keep practitioners informed of best and emerging disability employment practices and point them toward business peers that are already high performers.
A current tool titled “A Framework for Disability Inclusion” developed by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) outlines seven key strategies that employers can implement in employing people with disabilities. Click here to read the Framework.
KEITH KELLY SWORN IN AS NEW ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF VETERANS’ EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING SERVICE
On January 22, Keith Kelly was sworn in as the assistant secretary of labor for veterans’ employment and training. Kelly, a Vietnam veteran, was previously Montana’s commissioner of labor and industry. Among the programs administered by VETS is America’s Heroes at Work, which focuses on the employment challenges of returning Service Members living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The program equips employers and the workforce development system with the tools they need to help those affected by these injuries succeed in the workplace. Click here to read more.
EARN is funded by the
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy