October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month Bookmark and Share

October 1, 2014

Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009, cell: 557-1483

Maine Department of Labor helps businesses hire and retain people with disabilities

AUGUSTA—The Maine Department of Labor will be raising awareness of the benefits of employing people with disabilities throughout the month of October. The theme of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month is “Expect. Employ. Empower.”

“My administration is helping people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “More than 15 percent of our citizens have one or more disabilities and more than 50 percent of them are working-age adults. These Mainers contribute to our economy as customers and offer a great deal to employers in productivity, loyalty and perspective. I encourage Maine employers to work with the Department of Labor to diversify their workforce.”

“Our Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) and Ticket-to-Work Program provide services to Maine residents with disabilities who want to work,” stated Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette. “Our team helps businesses of all sizes and industries identify specific jobs that match a person’s skillset. Don’t be fooled by stereotypes and rumors of the costs of accommodations. Our agency can answer questions and connect your business with many excellent employees.”

Paquette noted, “We know that employment is a bridge that builds self-esteem and relationships while eliminating isolation and dependency. In the past year, BRS helped 921 Mainers find employment success. As a result, these individuals earned a combined $17.9 million in annual wages. ”

“As our workforce ages and baby boomers retire, it will be increasingly important to attract and retain older workers who may have age-related disabilities,” said Paquette. “Fewer than one third of working-age Mainers with disabilities are employed. Of those seeking work, nearly 20 percent are unemployed. We have an opportunity to connect employers and workers in ways that will make a powerful difference in our communities.”

Maine employers who are interested in learning more about the benefits of diversifying their workforce can contact the Business Relations Team at 1-855-ALL-HIRE. At no charge to the employer, BRS can provide access to prescreened, qualified job applicants; assistance with determining workplace accommodations; job retention and return-to-work services; information about financial incentives for hiring persons with disabilities and additional resources.

People can access services through Maine’s statewide network of CareerCenters or by visiting http://www.employmentforme.org and http://www.mainecareercenter.com/employment/disabilities/index.shtml .

To find out the location of your local CareerCenter, call 1-888-457-888 (TTY users dial Maine Relay 711) or visit http://www.mainecareercenter.com . Maine CareerCenters are an equal opportunity provider. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.