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Summer of Jobs Campaign Highlights Hiring People with Disabilities


Inclusive Talent Discussion at Minnesota Valley Transit Authority

This week we were excited to take our "Summer of Jobs" campaign to Eagan to highlight hiring People with Disabilities. Given historic workforce shortages and an economy teeming with opportunity, our campaign has three primary goals:

1. Showcase the thousands of amazing jobs available in Minnesota.

2. Amplify the many sources of labor that employers often overlook.

3. Highlight the innovation and best practices in workforce development from businesses, jobseekers, and communities.

We know Minnesotans living with disabilities continue to face barriers when it comes to realizing their full economic potential. As of 2020, more than 600,000 Minnesota residents reported having at least one disability, comprising 11% of the state's population. Compared to the overall Minnesota workforce, Minnesotans with a disability typically have lower levels of labor market participation, lower employment-to-population ratios, and substantially higher unemployment rates. In 2020, the annual unemployment rate for Minnesotans living with a disability was 9.4%, about 2.75 times higher than that of the general population, which was 3.4%. That's a huge number of people who could be helping fill thousands of job vacancies and might need just a little bit of help connecting with employers to gain valuable job experience.

We started the morning with a roundtable discussion at the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) garage where I talked with employers, service providers, and students with disabilities on the importance of employers connecting with underrepresented talent pools to fill job vacancies. One of the ways DEED's Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) can provide support across the state is by making those connections for employers and students with disabilities.

VRS (along with our contracted Community Partners) helps students, families and schools connect to business opportunities in their area. And on the employer side of things, businesses can contact a DEED Employment Specialist where they help businesses strategize and think creatively regarding their hiring needs.

Bus Detailing Job Shadow

VRS and community partner, Great Work, arranged with Schmitty & Sons to offer a paid work experience for three students with disabilities this summer. The work consists mainly of working with the MVTA to do interior cleaning and detailing of their buses. The paid summer work experience for the students I met with today is part of the Pre-Employment Transition Services offered by VRS and supported by our partners. Allie McCullough, the HR Director for Schmitty & Sons, shared that these partnerships in supporting youth with disabilities have been very successful for their company and believes more employers should be aware of the work VRS and community partners are doing to help businesses with their hiring needs.

VRS knows one of the best ways young people can prepare for the working world is to try out different types of jobs in real employment settings and paid work experience is one of the best ways to guarantee future employment success for students with disabilities.

It was so inspiring to hear about the students' work experiences and see their bus detailing skills in action. I'm looking forward to continuing job shadowing and highlighting more of the best-paying in-demand jobs available across Minnesota this summer!

For a recap of our day, check out our video on DEED's YouTube page.


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