Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Eleanor Clift on Delaware Gov. Markell's Disability Employment Initiative

See this piece by Clift in the Daily Beast.  It begins:
How to bring down the nation’s high unemployment rate and create jobs for millions of people seeking work dominated last weekend’s confab of governors in Williamsburg, Va., setting the stage for an admittedly “niche initiative” targeted at employing people with disabilities. “There are a lot of people who want to be working in our country, and aren’t given a shot,” says Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who was selected by his peers to head the National Governors Association (NGA) for the next year.

With so many able-bodied people out of work, why would Markell choose to focus on the special-needs community? It’s not politically correct to even ask such a question, but Markell has a ready answer, and he is not the least fazed by the unseemliness of the inquiry. He says hiring people with disabilities is good for the bottom line of companies that are doing it, which means it’s good for the shareholders. “It’s not just for charity,” he told The Daily Beast. His NGA initiative is dubbed “A Better Bottom Line: Employing People With Disabilities.”

He thinks a targeted initiative like this “can move the needle” when it comes to hiring. Unemployment among people with disabilities seeking work is “staggering,” he says, with some surveys finding it as high as 80 percent. He believes the reluctance to hire among employers can be overcome with outreach and education.



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