October 9, 2020
For Immediate Release: October 9, 2020
Maine Chosen for National Disability and Employment Boot Camp
AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) announced today that Maine is one of six states chosen to participate in a Disability and Employment Boot Camp, an innovative opportunity for states and local workforce programs being facilitated by the U. S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration Disability and Employment Initiative.
The Disability and Employment Boot Camp is an opportunity for small teams to address emerging needs as they serve both people with disabilities and businesses during a period of economic recovery.
According to U.S. DOL, participating teams, with experienced coaches support, will work to develop and test solutions for challenges that are impacting how they provide safe, accessible services to adults and youth with disabilities. The goal is to strengthen the capacity of the American Job Centers network to support individuals with disabilities to enter, stay in, or return to the labor force as the country manages a national transformation in the way we work and the availability of work.
"Maine is a leader in providing equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities," Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said. This new opportunity will provide critical training to support our efforts to ensure Maine people with disabilities can enter, stay in, or return to the work force, especially during this unprecedented time.
Maine is the only state in the country that both prohibits sub-minimum wages to workers with disabilities and has an Employment First law.
Employment First is a national and state-level effort to ensure that gainful employment is a priority focus of publicly funded programs and services for people with disabilities. It is a banner under which states are taking proactive steps to increase the workforce participation rate of their working-age residents with disabilities, putting in place policies and programmatic strategies to ensure that employment is the first and preferred option offered to each person with a disability while expanding the workforce available to meet business needs.
Maines team includes experts on workforce and economic development and higher education as well as members of the State Chamber of Commerce. Maines plan is to focus on employer outreach in an effort to coordinate the existing disability employment initiatives, develop consistent messaging, identify and fill gaps in employer services.
This Boot Camp initiative begins during the 75th observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month - https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/initiatives/ndeam , which takes place every October. Governor Janet Mills recently signed a proclamation - https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/sites/maine.gov.governor.mills/files/inline-files/Disability%20Employment%20Awareness%20Month%20-%20October%202020.pdf - commemorating the month. This years theme is Increasing Access and Opportunity.
The Disability and Employment Boot Camp will take place from October 2020 through March 2021.