Millions of people who live with intellectual, physical or mental disabilities are underemployed, unemployed or uneducated. Programs to improve the lives of these individuals are either expensive or unavailable, making it harder for them to become more independent. Even though the economy continues to show signs of improvement, the disabled population continues to get left out.
According to the Kessler Foundation, data from its research partner the University of New Hampshire and the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the employment to population ratio went down in April from 27.3 percent in 2013 to 25.3 percent. The number of disabled persons who were looking for work last month also decreased.
After back-to-back months of lower labor participation, the U.S. Department of Labor decided to issue its fifth round of grants. Businesses that are interested in creating programs to include disabled persons would be eligible to receive $1.5 to $2.5 million. The deadline to submit proposals is July 8, 2014, the Labor Department’s announcement reads.
“People with disabilities have enormous contributions to make to our economy, and they are still disproportionately represented among the unemployed,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said in a statement. “These grants will help ensure that these workers have better access to training programs that lead to good jobs and economic self-sufficiency.”
There are many ways to include disabled persons into the workforce, but the government is looking for companies that will offer consumer-facing training to prospective hires of all ages. An applicant’s project must focus in one of three population groups, as well as offer competitive wages:
- Adults (ages 18 and older) with disabilities;
- Youth (ages 14-24) with disabilities; and
- Individuals (ages 14 and older) with significant disabilities.
Companies that have extensive experience working with disabled persons, but need to have access to previous funding proposals or performance reviews can benefit from a central, HR software system. These programs can keep human resources organized and productive when deadlines are approaching.