Agency Brings Work to Thousands
The N.C. Division of Vocational Rehabilitation assisted 8,405 North Carolinians with disabilities in finding jobs last year. The new hires represent a win for the new employees, their employers and their communities, according to the agency's director.
"These applicants have gotten the jobs -- at many skill levels -- that they are qualified for," says Linda Harrington. "Employers are accessing a workforce they may not have been aware of, and the community gets a more involved, taxpaying citizen."
In the year ending June 30, individuals newly employed with VR assistance earned a combined total of $2.4 million per week. According to Harrington, vocational rehabilitation services are among the most cost-effective of any offered by government. She pointed to statistics from a nationwide study:
Individuals who went to work with VR assistance will actually pay back the cost of their services, through taxes, within four years. Every VR dollar spent will earn back $2 to $4 dollars in revenues over subsequent years of employment. Individuals assisted in going to work by VR work an average 35 hours per week and 78.4 percent work in professional, managerial, technical, clerical, sales or service jobs.
Harrington pointed to several factors that she says give her agency's applicants an edge in job placement: Training, screening and job-matching reduce an employer's recruitment time and costs and help minimize turnover.
Services "stay on the job." Agency professionals provide no-cost, continuing follow-up consultation to make sure the employee is a good fit, and they can offer job-coaching and on-the-job training.
These services are provided at no cost to employers. There are also tax incentives available for hiring people with disabilities and for adapting the workplace to accommodate a new employee's specific disability. National data shows that often no accommodations are required in these situations. When required, accommodations can usually be met at minimal or no cost.
Vocational Rehabilitation provides counseling, training, education, medical, transportation and other services to people with physical or mental disabilities to help them become job-ready.
October is "National Disability Employment Awareness Month."
"Our consumers have gotten the training and other services they need to get ready to work," says Harrington. "Moreover, we serve every county in North Carolina, so for every employer, there's a local VR office not very far away."
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