December LEAD On! Newsletter – Good Jobs and Competitive Integrated Employment: Strategies for Success
Good Jobs and Competitive Integrated Employment
Various federal departments, including the Departments of Labor, Transportation, Energy, and Commerce, rallied around the Investing in America (IIA) agenda. The IIA agenda brought $2 trillion in federal investments and created access to good jobs for all America’s workers, including those with disabilities.
The eight “Good Job” principles are:
- Recruitment and hiring
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA)
- Empowerment and representation
- Job security and working conditions
- Organizational culture
- Skills and career advancement
The IIA agenda’s focus on Good Jobs dovetails perfectly with an important pillar of disability employment included in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA): competitive integrated employment. Under CIE, people with disabilities work alongside and receive the same pay as people without disabilities and receive the same level of benefits and opportunities for career advancement.
In this newsletter, you will learn about several resources to promote Good Jobs and CIE, including:
- a fact sheet on the Good Jobs principles and people with disabilities,
- a riveting success story from South Carolina, and
- webinars and other resources about Good Jobs and CIE.
This fact sheet answers various questions, including:
- How can businesses and jobseekers with barriers to employment mutually benefit from the IIA agenda, the Good Jobs principles, and Universal Design?
- What are the facts around employees with disabilities in Good Jobs industries like construction, transportation, and other skilled trades?
- How can experts in CIE, such as Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and other state agency staff, support employers who want to employ workers with disabilities?
- What are the best resources for employers navigating this space for the first time?
ON THE GROUND
A Riveting Success Story
South Carolina’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) has 31 area offices ready to assist jobseekers with disabilities and employers wanting to recruit, train, and retain talented individuals with disabilities. A few years ago, Larry Phillips began working with a VR counselor at the Berkeley-Dorchester office. He strived to become self-sufficient and not rely on disability benefits. Larry uses a manual wheelchair and has prior justice system involvement. He came from a family of welders and wanted to make a career of welding. South Carolina is home to many companies that either specialize in metal fabrication or require welded parts, including BMW, Mercedes, and Boeing. On average, welders earn nearly $50,000 per year.
South Carolina’s VR provides many services in one location, including disability benefits specialists, job coaches, technology specialists, and engineers. When they heard Larry’s request, they agreed that just because welding from a wheelchair had not been done before by any of their clients did not mean it was not possible. His VR office partnered with a local welding school called ArcLabs Welding School. With support from the teachers and students at the school, the VR engineers designed and fabricated a desk that could easily and safely accommodate Larry’s wheelchair; an extra-long smock to protect him from sparks; a bucket elevator to the second-floor classroom; and even a special set of solid tires for his wheelchair that would not pop or pick up metal flakes.
Once Larry completed his nearly 300 hours of training at ArcLabs, he applied to welding jobs in the area. W International, a metal fabricator that specializes in U.S. Navy submarines, customized a training program and daily work so that Larry could thrive. With accommodations similar to those he received at ArcLabs, Larry has been successfully working at W International for two years. Because he now earns a good salary, Larry is financially self-sufficient and no longer relies on public benefits. Others see him as a role model. Recently, another wheelchair user in the area received training to be a welder after learning about Larry’s story. Because of Larry’s perseverance and many achievements, he won South Carolina VR’s 2022 Consumer Achievement Award.
For more success stories, visit the LEAD Center’s new webpage, Employment Success Stories.
This blog reflects on 50 years of the Rehabilitation Act and the ways building a more accessible and equitable workplace will continue to guide the Department of Labor in the years ahead.
This FAQ document addresses questions about CIE, such as “What constitutes CIE?”; “Who decides whether a job position is considered CIE?”; and “Must an individual with a disability choose CIE?”
Resource: The Good Jobs Initiative
(October 26, 2023)
In this webinar, employers and the people with disabilities they employ in Good Jobs describe their experiences, available supports, and the ways that employees with disabilities have benefitted their businesses.
ON THE HORIZON
Webinar: The Good Jobs Initiative (GJI), Part 2