The nonprofit Ability Beyond has received a $50,000 grant from the PwC Charitable Foundation to expand its work facilitating inclusive hiring practices and career development for people with disabilities.
“In this era of record-low unemployment, nearly 40 percent of employers are having challenges hiring qualified employees, while at the same time one in five people in our country have some type of disability and are facing challenges in getting hired,” said Tracy Conte, vice president of development and community engagement at Ability Beyond. “Utilizing our expertise, we will produce free webinars for each group to give them the skills and knowledge to meet each other’s needs.”
The webinars will be run by Disability Solutions, an arm of Ability Beyond that was started five years ago as a national disability employment initiative. Kris Foss, the managing director of Disability Solutions, says Ability Beyond started by working directly with job seekers. “[The] approach is to get to know people, get to know their goals for a job or career, what their skills are … and then help them to either build some skills or get the certifications or education they need to get to those goals. And then to help them navigate the job search process.”
That approach works, but it requires employers who are ready to connect with disabled talent and understand the value we can provide. To that end, Disability Solutions began consulting directly with employers — including large national companies such as PepsiCo, Aramark, Synchrony Financial and Staples, among others — to increase awareness and inclusivity in their hiring practices and retaining disabled talent.
Foss is proud of the work they’ve done to bridge the gap between employers and job seekers with disabilities, and sees the PwC grant as vital funding to expand the scope of Disability Solutions’ mission. They’ve already facilitated the hiring of over 1,000 job seekers, and with that, companies are seeing a 14 to 16 percent higher retention rate when compared with the general population of employees in the same roles and same locations.
“This month is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and I think it’s nice to celebrate that in a way that increases awareness, but I think it’s really important that all year round people take action to attract and hire some really great talent and open their minds to the talent pool they’re missing out on,” says Foss. “There’s still a little bit of a fear factor and misperception [about hiring people with disabilities] and we’ll work until that’s gone. It would be great to work ourselves out of a job.”
If you you’re interested in Disability Solutions job seeker services, including the free job search board featuring employers committed to hiring people with disabilities, visit disabilitytalent.org or call Foss directly at 203/948-2338.