May07,2015

Empowering Individuals with Disabilities and Employers through the Workforce Recruitment Program

Former WRP participant Robert Zambrana (left) poses with Robert D. Cabana, former NASA astronaut and director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

By Guest Blogger Randy Cooper, Department of Defense Disability Program Director, Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity

Answering the call to serve

“Talent has no barriers” is Robert Zambrana’s favorite mantra. Mr. Zambrana’s determination and drive to succeed from an early age perhaps foretold a young man’s journey to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) where he’d find ample opportunity to show the workforce his many talents and launch a career at the leading agency for aeronautics and aerospace.

At age two, Mr. Zambrana was diagnosed with hearing loss. Zambrana faced discrimination and barriers in school and elsewhere for his disability which he channeled into confidence, a competitive spirit and compassion for others in the face of many challenges. He tells the story of a formative moment in high school when a school counselor suggested that, as a hearing impaired student, Zambrana would never pass the standardized exams he needed to graduate. Zambrana said simply, “Thank you for motivating me to pass this test.” And he did. In short, obstacles to Zambrana are the fuel that drives him to succeed.

After learning American Sign Language and graduating from Gallaudet University, Mr. Zambrana answered the call to public service. During a job fair, he connected with a representative from the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), which links highly motivated college students and graduates with disabilities to public and private sector employers nationwide. The WRP is geared toward individuals with disabilities who are eager to prove themselves in the workplace. For someone like Zambrana, who was “ready to show the world what I could do,” the program was a perfect fit. It was through his WRP placement at the Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) where he became a leader among his colleagues and a mentor to others with disabilities. At DEOMI, he remains well-respected for his strong performance, work ethic and love for learning.

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April22,2015

The Arc Launches TalentScout – Guide for Employers on How to Successfully Employ People with Autism

Jonathan Lucus, Managing Director, The Arc@Work at The Arc of the United States

By Guest Blogger Jonathan Lucus, Managing Director, The Arc@Work at The Arc of the United States

One in 68 children today is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The unemployment rate of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including ASDs, is 85 percent. This appalling statistic, coupled with the increase in prevalence of kids being diagnosed, demands action from all sectors of our economy to ensure that people with ASDs are finding appropriate employment at a fair wage, and retaining that job with the proper supports to be successful and have a career of their choosing, just like people without disabilities.

With nearly 65 years of experience working with and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including autism, The Arc is launching an exciting new resource called TalentScout for employers to unlock the talents of people with autism in the workplace. TalentScout is s a first-of-its-kind resource toolkit that gives employers essential insight and tools to harness the fullest potential of their employees with autism and lead to higher levels of productivity in the workplace.

People with autism have a lot to contribute in all aspects of our society. In the workplace, their individual, unique talents need to be maximized to benefit both the goals of their employer and their personal desire to have and keep a job that adds meaning to their life. Far too many people with autism are left on the sidelines of our workforce and entities that have recognized the benefits of hiring someone with autism are reaping the rewards. Whether it’s the loyalty that someone with a disability may bring to their employer, or their unique skill set that gets the job done, people with autism are ready for hire.

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April03,2015

Getting Hired for Work-at-Home Is a Different Process

A photo of Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder of Employment Options, Inc.

By Guest Blogger Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder of Employment Options Inc. 

Even though there are many similarities between applying for a local job and applying for a virtual work-at-home job, there are many significant differences. Your knowledge about this process can be the edge you need to secure the job you want!

The Application Process

Unlike jobs in your local community, almost all work-at-home jobs require an application to be submitted online. This submission tells the employer that you have access to a computer and you have a specific skill set to use the Internet and follow detailed instructions online. Most will not take phone calls or emailed resumes. They require you to use the submitted form.

Unlike applying in-person, tech issues can get in the way. Nevertheless, they can be overcome with patience and persistence! Below are some tips to solve some of the most common problems.

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March13,2015

Where Are the CEOs and Executive Managers with Disabilities?

A photo of John Kemp

By John D. Kemp, President and CEO of The Viscardi Center

As we prepare to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, I cannot help but ask, how many corporate CEOs, presidents or high-level executives with disabilities easily come to mind? Although I use four prostheses and steer a large not-for-profit in the New York metro area, I can only rattle off a few CEOs with a disability. While we’re seeing broadened gender and ethnic diversity at the top of the ladder, people with disabilities are still lagging when it comes to making it to the C-suite.

The lack of individuals in leadership roles is reflective of the employment woes people with disabilities are still experiencing. While the road towards this landmark anniversary includes many accomplishments, the employment of people with disabilities continues to be an area where we’ve barely moved the needle. We’re still seeing an outrageously low labor force participation rate, the percentage of people who are working or actively looking for work, by individuals with disabilities. The February 2015 labor force participation rate for people with disabilities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), was 19.8 percent, compared to 68.2 percent for people without disabilities. If well-educated, qualified individuals aren’t even in the workforce, how could they possibly climb the corporate ladder, or shall I say ‘ramp’?

Let’s look at ADA25 as a means of drawing attention to this continued challenge. If you are an employer, we need your “buy in.” You hold the keys to unlocking employment opportunities at all levels for people with disabilities. There is more untapped, educated talent out there than ever before. Embrace it. Recruit and hire people with disabilities. Advance those already within your organization and diversify your thought leadership.

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