There’s an untapped talent pool of employees in Massachusetts–and we need YOU to help us spread the word about it. Your business’ pool of skilled, qualified candidates just got a lot bigger.
For the July entrant in our webinar series, Virtually Here hosted the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress’ hiring initiative Your Next Star. Josh Komyerov, Director of Communications at the MDSC and Legislative Specialist John Anton presented and answered questions about Your Next Star’s mission to advocate for greater employment opportunities for people with Down Syndrome. (Keep reading to find out how you can help!)
Here are some of the reasons the MDSC was spurred to take action and start advocating for wider employment opportunities for individuals with Down Syndrome. Did you know that:
- In Massachusetts alone, of our 3.8 million working age adults, 12% (438,000) have a disability.
- The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 120% higher than the unemployment rate for those without disabilities.
- Only one third of eligible adults with intellectual disabilities are currently employed; in addition, one third have never held a job at all.
The Big Disconnect
There’s an effect at play in disability hiring that Josh Komyerov refers to as “The Big Disconnect.” People with disabilities want to work. Businesses who hire people with disabilities get a double reward–they’re rewarded by customers because of the goodwill that’s created–just hiring someone with a disability gives them a competitive advantage.
But on top of that, businesses also get some of the best employees on the planet. But despite all the evidence that hiring disabled employees can have an extremely positive impact on a business, people with disabilities are not landing good jobs.
- 92% of consumers have said that they feel more favorable toward businesses that hire people with disabilities.
- 87% of consumers said that they would prefer to to patronize businesses that hire people with disabilities.
- 62% of people with disabilities working in a competitive setting have been there for three or more years.
One of the bigger hiring obstacles facing people with Down Syndrome is when they try to pursue jobs in what is considered an “atypical” field of employment. And yet, job performance studies show that with the right job and the right supports, employees with disabilities actually have equivalent job performance ratings as people without disabilities. They also tend to be more loyal, reliable and have less turnover than their non-disabled peers.
Another impediment is that businesses don’t realize that the majority of workers with disabilities actually do not need any special accommodations. Of the people who do, approximately 46% of accommodations cost absolutely nothing.
But it’s not that bleak! While no single business or conglomerate can change the landscape of hiring the disabled on their own, every business can do their part to improve the situation for the betterment of their community. “We have so much reason to be hopeful about what the future holds,” says Josh Komyerov. “Here in Massachusetts there are already many employers who have embraced a vision of an inclusive workplace.”
Here’s What You Can Do to Help RIGHT NOW
Help us spread the word in your community. Are you part of a Rotary Club, Networking Group or Chamber of Commerce in Massachusetts? Your Next Star is going out on the road to share their message and mission with as many business owners and community leaders as they can! Email Josh Komyerov at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a visit from Your Next Star to your group.
Explore hiring someone with Down Syndrome. Your Next Star has a partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services and the regional employment collaboratives they operate throughout the state. Employment Collaboratives help bridge the gap between employers who want to hire people with disabilities and qualified candidates. Connect with your region’s representative to learn more and find your future employee!
Also joining us in the webinar was John Anton, one of the MDSC’s Legislative Specialists. If you don’t have time to watch the webinar, take a look at this short Chronicle segment on John’s amazing story. John epitomizes the journey many people with Down Syndrome go through in their search for greater self advocacy and better employment.