Workers with Unique Abilities Play a Vital Role in Florida’s Workforce

Florida’s economic recovery is well underway.

Since 2010, Florida’s leadership has been focused on jobs.

In fact, Florida Chamber of Commerce members and others have created more than 800,000 private-sector jobs.

As Florida continues on the path to become the No. 1 job-creating state in the nation, Florida has an opportunity to help encourage underemployed Floridians — especially those with unique abilities — to reach their full employment potential.

Over the next 15 years, Florida will add 6 million new residents and need to fill 2 million new jobs.

Finding and keeping a talented workforce is among the chief concerns of Florida Chamber member businesses.

Broadening the scope from which employees are hired can help expand our existing workforce and provide even greater diversity and access to necessary skills and experience.

Typically, individuals with unique abilities struggle with higher unemployment rates.

These so-called “disabilities” come in many stripes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with a unique ability was 13.2 percent in 2013, compared with a 7.1 percent unemployment rate for people without what the federal government calls a disability.

Yet leading national reports show that businesses experience increased productivity and above average performance and quality of work simply by employing individuals with unique abilities.

This is something that our partners at the Able Trust have known for years, and they’ve made it their mission to be a key leader in providing Floridians with disabilities opportunities for successful employment.

Leading Florida Chamber members and partners recognize that diverse, talented and dedicated people are critical to their success.

Florida Chamber member Darden Restaurants has also been recognized as a Corporate Champion by Able Trust.

The Florida Chamber Foundation is currently partnering on a research project to learn more about the best practices of hiring persons with unique abilities.

Initial findings will be released during the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2015 Education Summit scheduled for June 9.

To provide input, please email: tlowe@flfoundation.org.

In the meantime, we look forward to advancing the legislative conversation to empower students with unique abilities as they prepare to play a leading role in Florida’s workforce.

Whatever the ZIP Code, whatever the unique ability, free enterprise is a ladder to success for everyone.

 

Mark Wilson, CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Tallahassee