Finding and keeping a job is hard enough, but for those with disabilities, it can be a huge challenge. In fact, the unemployment rate for Americans with disabilities is twice that of the general population.
Each year, The U.S. Department of Labor recognizes National Disability Employment Awareness Month to raise awareness, and to celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities. But getting ready for the world of work, especially for students with complex disabilities such as autism, requires careful planning, and coordinated and intensive services that begin while students are still in school.
Special education plays a vital role in helping students with disabilities prepare for adult life, but educators cannot do it alone. We need business leaders willing to work with our students and give them the chance to learn meaningful job skills while they are in the transition years. On-the-job experience is vital, not only so students have the skills they need when they graduate, but also so they have the community connections they need for lasting and meaningful employment.
I am thankful for the support of the business communities in Essex, Morris, Hudson and Bergen Counties, and for all of the employers who work with our students. They have discovered what many already know: employees with disabilities are valuable in the workforce and are good for the bottom line.
Founder, Executive Director
The Phoenix Center