Employing People With All Abilities

By: Melissa Roberts

Building a competitive business climate in our state requires fostering a diverse talent pool for businesses to choose from. Each industry has a need, just as each Floridian does. Yet, as we continue to focus on getting Floridians back to work, there is a large population that often gets overlooked. In 2013, the unemployment rate for people with a disability was 13.2 percent, compared with a 7.1 percent unemployment rate for people with no disability. This important group of prospective employees represents a large untapped pool of skills and talent in the U.S.

Successful businesses recognize that a diverse staff positively impacts their company. A report by the National Governor’s Association states that businesses report positive outcomes from employing people with disabilities. These benefits include increased productivity and above average performance and quality of work.

In addition, as our state’s population ages, the number of people in the workforce aged 18-64 will shrink, requiring those who remain in Florida’s talent pool to be ready to meet the needs of businesses. Broadening the scope from which employees are hired can provide greater diversity as well as access to the necessary skills and experience.

So what can Florida businesses do to fill the gap between unemployed Floridians and business need?

To help make the transition from unemployed to employed, people with disabilities benefit from programs such as internships, on-the-job coaching and job skills-training. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN®) have developed a report highlighting businesses that excel at creating a more inclusive workplace, including leading companies such as Florida Blue, Wells Fargo and Northrop Grumman. Many of the companies outlined in the report have created programs that not only help their bottom line, but give many Floridians and their families’ opportunities that, without the private sector, would not be readily available.

In Florida, the Able Trust has developed an internship program to help businesses properly structure internships in their operations, for all temporary and seasonal jobs, and for employees with or without disabilities. The seminars, which will be hosted around the state, are free and include a comprehensive tool kit to assist businesses in properly structuring temporary work experiences in their operations.

“In today’s competitive economy, a company’s workforce must mirror the marketplace in order to understand the changing needs for goods and services,” said Dr. Susanne Homant, President & CEO, The Able Trust. “The  internship program the Able Trust has developed and is providing free of charge to Florida’s businesses, is designed to help employers provide work experiences that train potential employees and assist employers in accessing needed talent from the workforce made up of people with disabilities, at no risk to those businesses.”

For a list of upcoming programs or to find ways to find out more about hiring persons with disabilities, visit the Able Trust Internship Program event registration page or call 850-224-4493.

Want to Take Part in Securing Florida’s Future?

The Florida Chamber Foundation is currently recruiting the brightest minds from industry across the state to help us secure Florida’s future. If you would like to Join the Florida Chamber Foundation Board or Trustees or want to help prepare the Cornerstone 2030 report, contact Tony Carvajal today.

 

About the Florida Scorecard Did You Know:

The Florida Scorecard, located at www.TheFloridaScorecard.com, presents metrics across Florida’s economy. Each week, the Florida Chamber Foundation produces a Scorecard Stat that takes an in-depth look at one specific statistic. If you would like additional information on the Weekly Scorecard Stat or on the Florida Scorecard, please contact Tracey Lowe with the Florida Chamber Foundation at 850.521.1226 or TLowe@FLFoundation.org.  You can also follow the Florida Chamber Foundation on Twitter at @FLChamberFDN.