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.