Nearly a quarter century after the United States passed the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, only about 30 percent of working age people with disabilities are employed. As we recognize April as Autism Awareness Month, we are reminded of our collective responsibility to change that fact and make possible a more rewarding future for millions of people.
I was honored to advocate for employment of people with autism alongside the Secretary General of the United Nations during World Autism Awareness Day. It was an opportunity to recognize efforts here in Delaware and across the country that show we can increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Efforts by businesses like the giant IT firm SAP, which, working with Delaware-based Specialisterne, has committed to employ hundreds of people with autism in the next few years. And there’s CAI, an IT company based out of Delaware, which has committed that three percent of its consultants will also be people with autism.
CAI and SAP are hiring these individuals not out of charity, but because they recognize that people with autism are often best qualified for jobs like software testing and data entry. Government can help bring businesses together around this issue, but we should also set an example. It’s why I proudly signed the Employment First Act to encourage State agencies to ensure people with disabilities have more job opportunities.
Today, more than 20,000 Delawareans are contributing, are engaged in their communities, and have purpose like never before. Employing people with disabilities makes good business sense and helps government improve the competitiveness of our workforce. It transforms the lives of citizens who often want nothing more than to use their skills to contribute – and it will keep Delaware moving forward.
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