Employment Grows For Workers With Disabilities, But Improvement Is Still Needed

Employment Grows For Workers With Disabilities, But Improvement Is Still Needed

Employment of candidates with disabilities in 2012 reached its highest level since the onset of the recession, however the job prospects for these workers still need improvement, according to the Labor Department.

Unemployment among people with disabilities ended 2012 at 13.4%, down from the 15% mark it hovered near throughout the recession years of 2009-2011. While last year was an improvement, that rate is still nearly 6% higher than the overall unemployment rate, which dropped to 7.6% in May.

CareerCast.com recently researched professions that are particularly accommodating to job seekers with disabilities, and reflective of current overall hiring trends, healthcare and informational technological careers are the best paths.

Regardless the of the industry sector, recruiters must become more welcoming and alter their attitudes if the employment disparity for those with disabilities is to close.

“The perception…is that [employees with disabilities] are not as valuable,” says Brad Turner-Little of Goodwill Industries.

Various programs exist that are designed to both open more opportunities to candidates with disabilities, and encourage more inclusive hiring practices.

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, offered by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), financially rewards organizations that give applicants with disabilities opportunities. The Federal tax credit applies to a number of groups, including “vocational rehabilitation customers, SSI recipients and qualified Veterans with disabilities.”

ODEP also works in association with One-Stop Career Centers in an effort to point recruiters in the right direction for finding qualified candidates with disabilities. Education and incentives also are widely available for companies prepared to address this unemployment issue. And for those that do, there are proven results.

Janet D. Fiore of The Sierra Group Foundation writes that some of the benefits in hiring candidates with disabilities include a deeper hiring pool, reduced cost to employee benefits and overall improved staff morale.