Regarding "DOL's outreach to workers from underrepresented groups" -- in 2008, the Labor Force Participation Rate for people with disabilities was about the same as it is in 2021. In the 1980's, earlier studies suggested a similar rate (around 33%). This stagnation exists despite decades of important accomplishments towards advancing the employment of people with disabilities through better employment preparation programs, employer education efforts, accommodation supports, accessibility advances, benefits counseling, work incentives, and employment nondiscrimination laws.
What more is needed?
Having a disability often makes considering and preparing for competitive employment frightening. The negative labels, looks, definitions, rules and expectations too often dampen the person's ambition and, in turn, preparation. Plus, these longstanding negative forces also discourage their family members and other supporters.
More needs to be done to break through these fundamental attitudinal barriers. Dramatic progress in employment is not likely to happen until widespread programming is implemented to better generate the employment empowerment of people with disabilities and their supporters. Employment is a "supply" plus "demand" equation. Unless and until we improve our "supply" side programs, our efforts will remain incomplete. Leadership in this direction needs to come from DOL/ODEP.
What is Employment Empowerment: Where fears and self-doubts about either having a competitive employment potential or being able to rely on a job for economic security exist, employment empowerment programs offer a focused interventional strategy designed to give people with disabilities a chance to better understand these barriers and explore ways around them. Employment empowerment seeks to build the person's competitive employment self-confidence, ambition, and readiness to compete in the labor market. It does this in a fundamental or "basic training" manner. The employment empowerment intervention meets people where they are and endeavors to give them the knowledge and resources they need to be more thoughtful about their potential for competitive employment. Where there's a will, there's a way. Employment empowerment programming helps to generate the will by showing the way. For more information on this policy suggestion see: www.employempower.net