By Dominique DiSpirito and Abeer Sikder
Each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) celebrates the contributions workers with disabilities make to building a vibrant, resilient workforce. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) selects a theme for the month and shares resources for employers, policymakers and other workforce stakeholders. The theme this year, “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation,” recognizes “the vital role people with disabilities play in making the nation’s workforce diverse and inclusive.” The theme also highlights the intersectionality of disability with other systemic inequalities, such as racial and gender discrimination.
Continue reading “Celebrating Disability Employment as a Key Component of a Diverse and Equitable Workforce”
By: Luke Byram, CAPE-Youth O’Connor Scholar Intern
January is National Disability Mentoring Month.
According to Partners for Youth with Disabilities Mentoring Director Kristin Humphrey, mentoring is a critical disability inclusion strategy that promotes positive academic, employment and independent living outcomes. Partners for Youth with Disabilities indicate that mentored youth:
- are more engaged in school,
- know more about their career options,
- raise stronger voices as self-advocates and
- find supportive communities more often.
The results of a 2014 study by MENTOR National show “that young adults who were at risk for falling off track but had a mentor were 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.” The same study shows that “mentored youth were 78% more likely to volunteer regularly and 90% were interested in becoming a mentor.” When youth have positive experiences with mentoring, they are more likely to become mentors themselves.
Students with disabilities benefit from work-based mentoring as much or more than their peers without disabilities. Work-based mentorship helps students with disabilities:
- clarify academic and career interests,
- fund education expenses,
- apply knowledge gained in the classroom,
- learn to navigate disability disclosure,
- develop interpersonal and job search skills, and
- network for employment after graduation.
Started in 2002 by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, National Disability Mentoring Month focuses national attention on how mentors create positive outcomes for youth with disabilities. It also shows that when everyone works together, mentoring efforts can make an even bigger impact in young people’s lives. National Disability Mentoring Month aims to:
- raise awareness of mentoring in its various forms,
- recruit mentors and
- recruit organizations to engage constituents in mentoring.
During National Disability Mentoring Month, national partners work with local leaders to organize special events in their communities and invite local media outlets and public officials to attend. These events also help engage adults who are interested in becoming mentors.
Every year, MENTOR holds an event called the National Mentoring Summit that brings together public and private-sector leaders who support the mentoring movement, including:
- youth leaders,
- government and civic leaders,
- MENTOR Affiliates and
- supporting partner organizations.
The National Mentoring Summit is an opportunity for the mentoring movement to advocate for a policy agenda that strengthens mentoring programs and practices. The 12th Annual National Mentoring Summit will be held as a hybrid event from January 26-28, 2022, in Washington D.C.
By: Chip O’Connell
The seventh annual National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) takes place November 15-21, 2021. NAW is a nationwide celebration where industry, labor, workforce, education and government leaders host events to showcase the successes and value of Registered Apprenticeships for re-building our economy, advancing equity and supporting underserved communities.
Apprenticeships are employer-driven programs that provide hands-on technical training for individuals seeking new skills and employment. Training and instruction are tailored to help the apprentice master skills needed to succeed in a specific occupation. Apprenticeship is a high-quality career pathway, with 92% of apprentices retaining employment in their field and earning an average starting salary of $72,000. Employers utilize these programs to train new employees as well as reskill their existing employees to meet changing demands, resulting in a steady pool of qualified workers. These programs also benefit state governments by lowering unemployment rates and attracting new industries. The Job Corps website contains examples of apprenticeships from programs in industries ranging from automotive and machine repair to homeland security.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has taken several steps to increase inclusion and accessibility in apprenticeship programs. According to DOL, between 2017 and 2019 the number of apprentices who identify as having a disability increased 550%. Research shows that participation in apprenticeship programs produces a number of benefits for students with disabilities, including experience, employability skills and nationally recognized credentials. An apprenticeship can be a viable career pathway for more than 1.3 million young people with a disability between the ages of 16 and 24.
States are increasingly enacting policies engineered to increase the inclusion and engagement of youth with disabilities in apprenticeship programs. Below are a few examples:
- New Jersey’s Youth Transition to Work (YTTW) Program provides multiple financial incentives for employers hiring youth apprentices, with an emphasis on targeted industries such as health care, information technology or public service.
- Louisiana’s Postsecondary Apprenticeship Pilot for Youth (PAY Check) is a three-to-five semester program that allows transition age youth with disabilities to take classes at Delgado Community College related to specific apprenticeship areas, participate in career development activities, learn community and work skills, and gain employment experience through a paid apprenticeship at the University Medical Center.
- Oregon’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Plan specifically outlines identified issues and how agencies can strategize to make apprenticeships more inclusive and useful in the state.
Apprenticeship programs are a proven way for individuals to discover exciting career pathways and for states to secure employment for their workforces. Be sure to check out National Apprenticeship Week events happening near you