Reaching our potential as a state requires that we tap into the abilities of all of our people. Too often, people with disabilities and the skills that they can contribute are dismissed. Talent is wasted and our economic competitiveness suffers.
We’ve seen states and businesses show that hiring people with disabilities is good for the bottom line, improving our workforce while increasing financial independence for these new employees. By making this issue a priority in our state and working closely with our business community, we are making progress. Our Department of Labor has significantly increased the number of individuals with disabilities being connected to jobs. And Delaware was rated as the best state to help youth receiving social security disability benefits to successfully transition to employment. We have more to do, and that includes taking the opportunity to work with other states as well as national and regional organizations to raise awareness of what’s possible nationwide.
Next week, I will join business leaders and academic researchers at a conference titled “Bottom Line of Disabilities: Investing in Social Change,” and it’s hosted in part by the Global Interdependence Center. We’ll bring together businesses and policy makers who are committed to changing workplace practices and providing better access to jobs for individuals with disabilities. We’ll especially focus on the growing number of people with autism, recognizing that eighty percent of high school students with autism spectrum disorder will graduate and subsequently be unemployed. It’s an extraordinary and unacceptable number when we have seen companies like IT leaders SAP and CAI commit to hiring people with autism because of the valuable skills they offer.
You can learn more at: www.interdependence.org. By learning from these businesses, we drive social change and we grow our economy. And that will keep Delaware and our nation moving forward.
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