Engaging Employers: A Guide for Disability and Workforce Development Service Providers

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Employers recognize the importance of incorporating disability into their talent management strategies now more than ever. But, while many employers understand the value of a disability-inclusive workplace culture, they may not know how to effectively recruit and retain people with disabilities or have the capacity to take proactive steps to do so.

Disability and Workforce Development Service Providers Can Be Key Allies to Employers

Service providers can become key allies to employers who want to develop a disability inclusive workforce. They can:

  • Train individuals for specific workforce needs
  • Identify and directly connect employers with qualified job seekers with disabilities
  • Provide ongoing supports to ensure the success of people with disabilities once on the job

The Dual Customer Approach

Demonstrating to employers the benefits of partnering with service providers is not always easy. The key is to broaden the definition of who is being served, while respecting and responding to both the business’s needs and those of job seekers with disabilities.

Service providers must understand that they actually have two customers: individuals with disabilities and employers. This is called a “dual customer approach”.

Engaging Employers: A Guide for Disability and Workforce Development Service Providers

This guide helps disability and workforce development service providers understand how to build effective relationships with employers based on a dual customer approach.

It draws upon employer feedback about their experiences working with service providers, as well as lessoned learned by the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) and Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) National Employment Team (NET).

The guide provides information on:

  • Establishing Relationships: Keys to Successful Communication
  • Meeting Employers Where They Are: Customer Segmentation
  • Working Together: Best Practices in Action
  • Creating Partnerships: Resources for Ongoing Exploration and Improvement
Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN)

Tremendous Opportunities for Competitive Integrated Employment

The landscape of law and policy on transition from school to employment for students with disabilities has changed significantly in recent years.

  • Federal court cases have clarified and explained the application of the ADA and Olmstead v. L.C. to employment-related transition services for youth with disabilities.
  • In 2014, Congress enacted WIOA, amending provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and expanding both the scope of transition services and the population of young people who are eligible to receive them.
  • The federal government issued guidance about the provision of employment-related transition services and the obligations of state agencies, such as vocational rehabilitation, education, and developmental disability agencies, regarding transition.

These changes to law and policy have complementary qualities, and when read together, reflect tremendous opportunities for state and local governments, youth with disabilities, their families, service providers, employers, and others to drive successful employment outcomes for youth with disabilities in competitive integrated employment.

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