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Senator Wants More Young People With Disabilities Working


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A key U.S. senator is pressing for a quarter-million more young people with disabilities to be employed by 2015.

In a new report, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says that public and private sectors should come together to grow the number of young workers with disabilities by 250,000 in the next three years.

“The enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 23 years ago, helped grant the promise of equality to Americans with disabilities. But today, more work remains to be done to knock down one of the last remaining barriers -— the gap in workforce participation that exists for millions of young adults,” Harkin said.

The call for greater job opportunities for young people comes two years after Harkin worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to set a goal of increasing the number of Americans with disabilities in the workforce by 20 percent — from 4.9 million to 6 million — by 2015.

Currently, those ages 16 to 35 account for about 6 percent of all workers with disabilities, Harkin said.

Growing job opportunities for this demographic is part of a broader push from the senator to strengthen prospects for what he calls the “ADA Generation” — those who have come of age since the ADA became law more than two-decades ago.

To meet what he called the “high, but achievable” employment goal, Harkin said that young people need to be offered opportunities for internships and other work experience while they are still in school, among other opportunities.

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Comments (6 Responses)

  1. Robin says:

    Great concept. Even better one if the companies actually HIRE those disabled people. As one who actually, as a highly qualified candidate, landed 85.. yes that is a correct number.. face to face interviews within one year after passing multiple phone interviews for a C-level executive assistant position. Not one resulted in a position after visually seeing me in a scooter at that face-to-face interview. Trust me at the C-levels, there are ‘images’ to keep and in the south….where I’d moved to from the northeast, I didn’t fit. Yes there was discrimination, and almost anyone who’s gone looking for a job while in a scooter/wheelchair can probably tell you stories.

  2. marie camp says:

    I love the Senators ideas and I hope he is very sucessfull in his quest . I support him 100 per cent and the whole disability community should also.

  3. aileen tormey says:

    I would like to know how many young adults with Developmental Disabilities Senator Harkin has known and
    lived with? These young adults are anxious to get jobs and are very good and responsible employees but, they
    are given jobs cleaning the restrooms, gathering the carts from the parking lots, sweeping up and other menial tasks. With understanding and supports they might be able to improve their situations and become more independant.

  4. patm says:

    Why doesn’t the Senator start with his own office hiring some with disabilities so he can see what some of the hoops disabled must constantly jump through.

  5. Dena Gassner says:

    What a lovely idea, however, does the good Senator have any idea that the vast majority of the unemployed, or underemployed are ALREADY ADULTS! There are tens of thousands of adults living with disabilities currently struggling. This is not an emerging issue–it’s a current one.

  6. Pamela Dahl says:

    I have a disability, and work as a Community College Counselor. In order to get a job, I had to volunteer to prove that I’m able to do the job. It shouldn’t be this way!

    – Pam
    Berkeley, California

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