Disability Mentoring Day Highlights Opportunities for Students with Disabilities Bookmark and Share

October 10, 2014

Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, cell: 557-1483

Focus on increasing opportunity and businesses awareness on October 15

AUGUSTA—Disability Mentoring Day, a program of the American Association of People with Disabilities and part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, is a nationwide effort celebrated on October 15 to promote career development for students with disabilities through hands-on career exploration. The Maine Department of Labor continues to raise awareness of the benefits of employing people with disabilities and to further the theme of the month: “Expect. Employ. Empower.”

“I encourage Maine businesses to look for opportunities to connect everyone with meaningful employment,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Everyone who wants to work should have a job, and the Department of Labor is encouraging this by focusing on what people can do, not what they can’t. Disability Mentoring Day is a way for employers to look at their own opportunities in a similar manner. Let’s look at possibilities, not barriers, and empower all of our people with a good-paying career.”

The department's Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) partners with businesses interested in including people with disabilities in their work. The bureau offers no-cost services that include consultation, recruiting talented job seekers with disabilities; training; job support, coaching, and training for job seekers with disabilities; providing assistance with workplace accommodations, job retention/return-to-work services and financial incentives.

“We know that employment is a bridge that builds self-esteem and relationships while eliminating isolation and dependency,” said Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette. “We can do more as a society to help people with disabilities find work and support them when they do. Please contact the Department of Labor if your business would like to learn more about our mentoring and job shadowing programs. We are about connecting the right employee with the right job to the benefit of all.”

Bates College and Bank of America’s Support Services worked with BRS over the summer on job-shadowing events that introduced students to opportunities with their organizations

On August 8, youth, family members, community rehabilitation providers and BRS staff toured the campus of Bates College in Lewiston and listened to presentations on career opportunities from the manager of dining services and head of security. An attendee who said he wanted to work outdoors was encouraged to apply for an open groundskeeper position with Bates and was later hired.

“Bates has recognized that reaching out to individuals from untapped labor pools is essential to our workforce in the coming years as we face a looming labor shortage,” said Amie Parker, director of employment. “Youth Disability Mentoring Day was a great way for us to reach out to youth and demonstrate that we are a vibrant and inclusive campus, an employer seeking to hire individuals of all abilities and ages.”

Youth and staff from the bureau visited the Belfast facility of Bank of America on August 28. The bank’s Support Services program provides people with cognitive and developmental disabilities full-time jobs within their community. Attendees toured the facility, job shadowed staff and performed tasks in the data entry, quality assurance and special projects division. Over the past two years, six vocational rehabilitation clients have been hired by Bank of America.

In 2014, Maine’s vocational rehabilitation program assisted 1,003 individuals with disabilities in finding employment. In 2013, the 921 clients the program help employ earned combined wages totaling almost $18 million.

Maine residents with disabilities considering employment options are encouraged to access Maine’s network of CareerCenters as well as the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services at (207) 623-6799 . To find your local CareerCenter, call 1-888-457-888 or visit http://www.mainecareercenter.com . TTY users please use Maine Relay 711.

Maine CareerCenters are an equal opportunity provider. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.