People with disabilities and our American workforce

The Kessler Foundation recently released the results of the 2015 National Employment and Disability Survey.

The Kessler Foundation is dedicated to improving quality of life for individuals with disabilities. The University of New Hampshire conducted the first of its kind survey with a grant from the Kessler Foundation. The survey “findings show that Americans with disabilities are encountering – and overcoming – barriers as they look for work. The top three barriers included the lack of sufficient education or training, the employers’ assumption that they couldn’t do the job and a lack of transportation. In the workplace, the top three barriers were getting less pay than others in a similar job, negative attitudes of supervisors and negative attitudes of coworkers.”

As a part of the study, those not currently working indicated approaches used to prepare for a job included:

  • Going to school or college.
  • Getting help with resume writing.
  • Volunteering in an organization to learn some skills.
  • Getting help with interviewing.
  • Going to a vocational training or job skills training program.

Approaches to searching for a job included:

  • Looking for and applying for jobs online.
  • Through friends or relatives.
  • Through local community non-profit agencies.

Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development has a variety of career preparation materials available to families and volunteers to develop and enhance skills to be an effective employee. Useful topics such as resumes, interview skills and mock interview questions, networking, job applications and finding a job may be beneficial resources. The Michigan-authored, national 4-H curriculum called Build Your Future: Choices, Connections, Careers is filled with career exploration and workforce preparation lessons and tools.

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