HARRISBURG – The Corbett administration announced has that Pennsylvania has been selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program.
Employment First is a concept to facilitate the full inclusion of people with the most significant disabilities in the workplace and community in typical workplace settings where the majority of workers are not people with disabilities.
The mentoring program will help the departments of Human Services (DHS), Education and Labor & Industry (L&I) collaborate to align policies and develop a plan to increase school-to-work opportunities for students with disabilities.
“We hope that providing students the opportunity to experience a real workplace setting and talk with people doing the job will inspire them to take their abilities to the marketplace and realize their tremendous potential,” Governor Corbett said.
“The Employment First Program will ensure that all Pennsylvania students, regardless of their disability status, have the opportunity to obtain gainful employment upon graduation from high school or postsecondary education,” Governor Corbett said.
The program provides experts who are available by phone and through on-site visits. A core team from the departments will interact with the experts. Recent statistics show that while 73 percent of Pennsylvanians between the ages 16 and 65 years old without disabilities are working, only 34 percent of Pennsylvanians who have a disability are employed.
“Progress is occurring, but this disparity is unacceptable. The idea of Employment First is already included in policies, but this will help us put it into action,” Governor Corbett said. “We need to clearly delineate state agencies’ roles, expectations and outcomes.”
This marks the fourth year of the mentoring program. At a meeting in Washington, D.C. earlier this month, officials from 25 states received technical assistance on how to improve their state Employment First efforts. This program helps states encourage community-based, integrated employment as the primary outcome for individuals with significant disabilities.
Under Governor Corbett, Pennsylvania has become a leader in employing people with disabilities. The Corbett administration has strived to provide a blended system that supports citizens with disabilities throughout their lifetime – from infancy, through school, and both through and after the transition into the workplace. This includes support for early childhood intervention and special education, reducing waiting lists for services that ease the transition into adulthood, and fostering innovation within the state’s vocational rehabilitation system.
For more information on services for people with disabilities in Pennsylvania, visitwww.dli.state.pa.us.