The Women in Government Midwest Conference was hosted in Minneapolis, MN on June 23rd-25th. One of the sessions focused on Employing People with Disabilities. Representative Jacqueline Sly (SD), Anne-Marie Kuiper (Summit Academy), Alyssa Klein (DEED), and Hannah Carney (BetterWorkforce) served on the panel. A good discussion followed the presentations.
Things state legislators can do to promote career pathways for people with disabilities (from the employer perspective):
1. Support "train-to-place" models that are driven by employer/industry needs. In other words, start with the business need and train people with disabilities to fill those needs.
2. Fund transportation - people with disabilities need to be able to get to work and transportation impacts all of us.
3. Connect with the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and its local affiliates. The local chapter in Minnesota is called the MN Business Leadership Network (MNBLN). These organizations are focused on best practices related to disability inclusion and can be a great place to learn more.
When it comes to Tax Incentives for employers who hire individuals with disabilities, make sure the process for receiving the incentive is easy. Businesses will not be attracted to an incentive that is labor intensive. Also note that tax incentives alone do not provide employers with information around best practices related to recruiting and retaining people with disabilities. So employers may be motivated by the tax incentive, but lack the knowledge and skills to earn it.