“It’s a win-win for everyone.”

 

Learn More About the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program

 

According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s recent unemployment report, there are more than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 65. Of the 1.13 million, 700,000 people with disabilities are not currently in Florida’s workforce.

Sachs Media Group is one of the 10 businesses who were selected to take part in the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program, in partnership with The Able Trust, which seeks to help close the talent gap by connecting businesses with workforce needs to valuable talent.

Business around the state cite a skilled workforce as the number one issue facing them. According to Lisa Garcia, Chief Operating Officer, at Sachs Media Group, for businesses in a specialize field, it can be  difficult to find just the right person with the right set of skills. A difficulty, she explains, that makes internship programs like this one even more important.

“It’s an opportunity to help somebody early on in their career establish the skills that they need to move on and to do other things in their community and beyond…it’s a win-win for the company and for that individual,” said Garcia.

Her advice to business and COOs looking for qualified talent?

“Think outside of the box and open your horizons… you have to go and look and make a concerted effort to meet these individuals and open up that opportunity for them and for yourselves— because it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Garcia.

Thank you to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Partner:

Where to Find Community Talent

By: Karen Pieters, Executive Director, Crystal River Main Street

Appeared in: Citrus County Chronicle

 

Learn More About the Internship Program See What Other Leaders Have Said

 

Last year Crystal River Main Street created a pop-up museum that showcased our community’s talent.

As we sought to plan the pop-up museum, we ran into an interesting dilemma — we found ourselves without enough workforce to showcase all the amazing talent we had to show. Weeks and weeks of preparation for this project meant the need to hire help, but as a nonprofit, funds for extra help aren’t always easy to come by.

Creating a more diverse workforce can be a challenge to many companies that don’t have the available resources to make new hires, especially local small businesses.

So when we heard about the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program, a grant created in partnership with The Able Trust, we knew we had to give it a chance. This program, in its pilot year, is helping create a more diverse workforce by connecting businesses with resources and tools that are currently available to hire and retain persons with disabilities. Crystal River Main Street was chosen as one of 10 Florida businesses to participate in the pilot year. By partnering with the Florida Chamber Foundation, Crystal River Main Street was able to get support on their bottom line, by getting reimbursed for their intern’s accrued cost, up to a predetermined amount.

Our community is rich with art, culture and diversity and it is these things we celebrate each and every day. It seems only fitting that our business practices do too.

If you would like to learn more about getting involved with the Florida Chamber Foundation, visit www.FLChamber.com/InternshipProgram.

Thank you to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Partner:

Businesses, Students Benefit with Internship Program

By: Hope Allen, president & CEO, Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce

Appeared in: Tampa Bay Times

 

Learn More About the Internship Program See What Other Leaders Have Said

 

Did you know that Pasco County’s unemployment rate for workers with disabilities is nearly four times the traditional unemployment rate? As we work to secure the future of our county and our state, businesses cannot afford to overlook a population that wants, and has the right skills, to work.

The Florida Chamber Foundation partnered with the Able Trust to develop a pilot program that will help match businesses with qualified individuals with disabilities to be placed in internships. The program’s goal is to match talented interns with businesses throughout Florida in order to help meet the long-term goal of engaging more Floridians with disabilities in the workforce.

The pilot program partnered with 10 local chambers of commerce to help spread the message of workforce inclusion, and the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce was one of them.

In our conversations, we found that businesses often shy away from workers with disabilities because they aren’t sure how to navigate a hiring process they may not be familiar with. Persons with disabilities are just like everybody else within your organization, and once we began to look outside of our traditional locations for information, we found that knowledge was power.

Our intern helped us during a time of need and gained valuable experience at the same time. If you are a business and need the right talent for you, I encourage you to visit FLChamber.com/Internship Program for more information.

 

Thank you to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Partner:

Disability Employment Awareness Month: Closing Florida’s Workforce Gap

 

Learn More About the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program
 

Today, I was proud to stand with other disability employment leaders from around our state as the Florida Cabinet signed a resolution, sponsored by Attorney General Pam Bondi, designating October as Disability Employment Awareness Month. The Florida Chamber Foundation has long been a champion of closing the workforce gap for Floridians with disabilities. The bottom line is, Florida businesses require the right talent. And in Florida, the 700,000 Floridians with disabilities who are not in the workforce are an untapped source of talent.

 

It’s the reason why we launched a pilot program with The Able Trust last year, to help pair interns with businesses that needed their skills. To date, more than 10 businesses around the state have shared their stories of hiring an intern, which you can find at www.FloridaChamber.com/InternshipMediaSeries.

These stories include many like Rebecca’s, who I had the honor of standing with at today’s Cabinet meeting and who has been employed by Walmart for more than 11 years. Her words, “having a job truly makes a difference in a person’s life”, are ones that resonate with me and all business leaders in Florida.

Special thank you to those who invited us to stand with them:

  • Robert Doyle, Division of Blind Services
  • Allison Flanagan, Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Barbara Palmer, Agency for Persons with Disabilities
  • Cissy Proctor, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
  • Mary Smith, Family Care Council
  • Glenn Sutphin, Veterans Affairs

The Key to Closing the Unemployment Gap of Disabled Floridians? Target Their Abilities to Your Business Needs.

 

Authored by: Bruce Hagan, RAI Investments

 

Learn More About the Internship Program See What Other Leaders Have Said

 

Did you know that the unemployment rate for Floridians with disabilities is three times Florida’s unemployment rate? RAI Investments took on the challenge of closing this talent gap and in my discussions with business leaders, they all ask me one thing: “If I hire someone who has a disability, how will they do the work?”

Hiring someone with a disability can seem overwhelming, but my advice to businesses is simple: hire the way you always do and match abilities to your needs. For instance, you might not want someone who uses a wheel chair unloading and stacking warehouse inventory- but that person might be ideally suited to run your IT programs, including your inventory software.

RAI Investments was one of 10 businesses selected to participate in the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program, a pilot program with The Able Trust that serves as a resource for businesses looking to find a qualified employee with a disability through internships.

We’ve learned a lot through the process and have found in this program an incredible intern that taught us ways of enhancing how we do business. People who have a disability who are given an opportunity to come into your business are going to really work hard and, at the end of the day, their differences are not that great from the other 320 million of us out there.

If your business is interested in getting involved with the Florida Chamber Foundation, visit www.FloridaChamber.com/InternshipProgram for more information.

Bruce Hagan CFP is the President and CEO of RAI Investments, a Tallahassee-based business that provides financial planning services to clients. Their intern assisted in marketing efforts and more.

Kafi Charles-King: “Everyone should be given an opportunity to fulfill their career dreams and aspirations”

 

Hire an Intern   Host a Seminar

 

According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s recent unemployment report, there are more than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 65. Of the 1.13 million, 700,000 people with disabilities are not currently in Florida’s workforce.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program seeks to help close the talent gap by connecting businesses with workforce needs to valuable talent.

My Nature’s Delight is one of the 10 businesses who were selected to take part in this pilot program.

“Being a part of this program is important to My Nature’s Delight because it allows us to help with the unemployment gap when it comes to workers with disabilities, but most importantly- it’s allowing workers with disabilities an opportunity to work and show off their special gifts and talents,” said KAFI CHARLES-KING, My Nature’s Delight. “We believe that everyone should be given an opportunity to fulfill their career dreams and aspirations and because of this, we are extremely grateful and proud to be part of the pilot year of the foundation.”

Hope Allen: “Those with disabilities don’t have to be unemployed- they are absolutely employable.”

 

Hire an Intern   Host a Seminar

 

According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s recent unemployment report, there are more than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 65. Of the 1.13 million, 700,000 people with disabilities are not currently in Florida’s workforce.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program seeks to help close the talent gap by connecting businesses with workforce needs to valuable talent.

After hearing a presentation of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s internship Program, the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce stepped up to the plate to help close the workforce gap. The key? Conversations.

“It’s all in conversations and not being afraid to have the conversations,” said HOPE ALLEN, President & CEO, Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce. “Persons with disabilities are just like everybody else within your organization- don’t be afraid of it. So it’s spreading the message and having ambassadors and goodwill and I think that’s what the Florida Chamber is doing really well.”

Karen Pieters: “If you can broaden the vision of what you are looking for and who can be a great employee for you- that helps everyone.”

 

Hire an Intern   Host a Seminar

 

According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s recent unemployment report, there are more than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 65. Of the 1.13 million, 700,000 people with disabilities are not currently in Florida’s workforce.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program seeks to help close the talent gap by connecting businesses with workforce needs to valuable talent.

Crystal River Main Street is one of the 10 businesses who were selected to take part in this pilot program.

“The internship program worked out absolutely phenomenally for us,” said KAREN PIETERS, CEO, Crystal River Main Street. “Being that we are a nonprofit, and being able to be reimbursed for the salary made a huge difference in our ability to do that.”

For businesses looking to meet workforce needs, Pieters recommends widening the scope of where you look for talent.

“It’s an entire segment of the population that actually has abilities, and can be employed, and is perhaps overlooked that winds up having to be on assistance and then therefore, are not able to be your customers and are not able to participate in the economy when they actually have the ability to do so, said PIETERS.”

Christina Davenport: “It goes back to education and getting the word out.”

 

Hire an Intern   Host a Seminar

 

According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s recent unemployment report, there are more than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 65. Of the 1.13 million, 700,000 people with disabilities are not currently in Florida’s workforce.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program seeks to help close the talent gap by connecting businesses with workforce needs to valuable talent.

JMI Professional Services is one of the 10 businesses who were selected to take part in this pilot program.

“I think the business community has a need for these individuals with disabilities that are out there and they don’t realize, in my opinion, that they are available to work,” said CHRISTINA DAVENPORT, President, JMI Professional Services Inc. “It goes back to educating and letting those that are out there and have employment needs to let them know that there is another skilled group of individuals that are ready to work.”

Bruce Hagan Discusses How Businesses Participating in the Foundation’s Internship Program Can Help Close the Workforce Gap

 

“We are both going to walk away from this with tangible, accountable results.”

 – Bruce Hagan, RAI Investments

 

According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s recent unemployment report, there are more than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 65. Of the 1.13 million, 700,000 people with disabilities are not currently in Florida’s workforce.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program seeks to help close the talent gap by connecting businesses with workforce needs to valuable talent.

RAI Investments is one of the 10 businesses who were selected to take part in this pilot program. According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s data, unemployment rate for persons with disabilities in each of Florida’s counties are nearly three times higher than overall unemployment rate. Why does this matter to the business community?

“I think it matters because we need to reduce the number of people who are dependent on government and taxpayers,” said BRUCE HAGAN, RAI Investments. “We need to make them employable and create more taxpayers- let them become taxpayers themselves.”

Businesses can help close the workforce gap by getting involved, getting informed and doing what they do best- matching skills to job needs.

“I think you need to match the skill set to the potential employee, and of course we are always doing that,” said HAGAN. “You might not want someone who is confined to a wheel chair unloading and stacking warehouse inventory- but that person might be ideally suited to run your IT programs, including your inventory software. I think employers need to understand that generally, people who have a disability who are given this opportunity are going to really work hard and do all they can but, their differences are not that great from the other 320 million of us out there.”

 

Todd Thomson Discusses Internship Program for Individuals with Disabilities

“We studied the Florida 2030 projections and know the challenges that our region faces in filling [the 6,000 new jobs Escambia County needs by 2030] and we absolutely believe that this type of internship program would be beneficial to our members. With the number of jobs that need to be filled, we need to find all sorts of candidates, and this type of internship program would be very important in trying to find those that are looking to fill these jobs,” said TODD THOMSON, Greater Pensacola Chamber Vice President of Public Affairs

The latest data available indicates an unemployment rate of 18.1 percent among Floridians with disabilities, nearly three times Florida’s overall unemployment rate. Smaller counties in Florida are not exempt from the problem either. Escambia County’s overall unemployment rate is holding at the same 6.3 percent as the state as a whole, but the county’s unemployment rate for disabled individuals is nearing the state average at an estimated 14.6 percent.

Todd Thomson, Vice President of Public Affairs at the Greater Escambia Chamber of Commerce, said his Chamber is looking to internship programs targeted at disabled job-seekers to help put a dent in those numbers and help the broader Escambia business community too.

“I think it’s an issue that’s not just important to our chamber, but I believe it’s an issue that’s important to the entire business community,” Thomson said. “That makes it even more important for us to provide opportunities for individuals who are looking for work and to educate businesses about these opportunities this [internship program] provides, and to try to bring that 14.6 unemployment rate down.”

Getting quantifiable results are important when determining the efficacy of the internship program, Thomson said, and direct feedback from participating businesses and organizations is perhaps the best way to tell how well the program is working.

“Surveys are one way we can measure the success…getting feedback from our partners and the other stakeholders who are involved with this process,” he said. “I think it’s just getting that data and feedback from the community to make sure we’re doing the right thing and making sure that these programs are successful.”

The Greater Pensacola Chamber has supported the Florida Chamber since 1936 and remains one of the Florida Chamber’s staunchest advocates in the Panhandle. Though Thomson is not a Florida Chamber board member, he and the rest of the Greater Pensacola Chamber have been an instrumental part of assisting the Florida Chamber’s efforts to fix the workers’ compensation issue facing state lawmakers in the upcoming Legislative Session. He said taking on workers’ comp-related problems is crucial for Escambia County and Florida as a whole.

“We’re looking at a number of important issues for the business community over here for 2017,” Thomson said. “First and foremost we’re focused on the workers compensation issue that they’ll be addressing in Tallahassee. This issue has a bottom-line impact on our local businesses and hopefully something can be done on the legislative level to fix that.

We’ll also be focusing locally on our…governments to make sure we have a good playing field for our businesses here. We feel pretty good about the way things are going here in Escambia County but we want to make sure that continues.”

John Newstreet Discusses Importance of Employing Floridians with Disabilities

 

“Every job has a different skillset and requirement and everybody

has different abilities…. We’re all able and we all have something to contribute.”

– JOHN NEWSTREET
President & CEO of Kissimmee / Osceola County Chamber of Commerce

 

According to research from the Florida Chamber Foundation, there are nearly 700,000 Floridians with disabilities that are not employed and may want to be part of Florida’s workforce. In response to this large untapped workforce population, the Florida Chamber Foundation and The Able Trust have developed an internship program to help match businesses with qualified individuals with disabilities.

On the Florida Chamber’s recent Series on Free Enterprise, John Newstreet, President & CEO, Kissimmee / Osceola Chamber of Commerce, discussed why his organization elected to participate in the pilot year of the internship program.

“The talent pipeline is important to the future of the community, so a program like this is going to help us find the special talent to help us achieve our goals and the things we most want to accomplish,” said Newstreet.

Research from TheFloridaScorecard.org shows 70,000 more jobs will be needed in Osceola County by 2030, making it even more important for the county to develop a workforce that can meet the needs of future businesses.

“A talent pipeline is needed on all levels,” said Newstreet. “Every job has a different skillset and requirement and everybody has different abilities. We want those folks working here and we want to make sure we have that talent filling the open jobs here. We’re all able and we all have something to contribute.”

Through partnering with organizations like the Kissimmee Chamber, the business community can help close the gap on the unemployment rate of Floridians with disabilities. And while the internship program is relatively new, success can be measured from both the employer’s perspective and from the intern’s.

“From the employer standpoint, it’s great to have a little help when accomplishing tasks and getting things done,” said Newstreet. “From the intern’s perspective, I really hope we give them exposure to different elements of the community and what businesses do, whether it be accounting or marketing or HR. It’s not just ‘come on in and file papers’, it’s come on in and learn the business and learn the community and grow from that.”

 

 

Learn More:

If you are a business and would like to hire an intern through the Floridians with Disabilities internship program, please visit www.FloridaChamber.com/Internship.

2016 Future of Florida Forum: Employing Persons With Disabilities, Whitney Harris

Testimonials on Finding Employment With a Disability: Derek Carraway

Testimonials on Finding Employment With a Disability: Sarah Goldman