Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: A Business Services Approach to Increasing Opportunities through Affirmative Action

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 10:55 AM
Stanford (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Joe Ashley, Dale Batton and Kathy Hayfield, Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
The primary focus of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies is to provide employment related and support services that enhance the employment of eligible Individuals with Disabilities (IWD). Ensuring that these job seekers become successful job candidates is central to the mission. Many VR agencies are focusing resources on providing services to businesses by assisting them in finding qualified job candidates with disabilities. This business services focus has become a very effective strategy to increasing employment success for IWD. The new requirements of Section 503 create unique opportunities to expand these partnerships between federal contractors and VR agencies to provide the contractors with qualified candidates that also address the new IWD affirmative action targets.

 This paper will describe the experience of the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, in working with businesses responding to the new 503 regulations. Some federal contractors are actively seeking qualified applicants. Others need outreach and education to understand how the agency can assist them in meeting their new requirements.  The paper will also describe how the agency has organized resources to provide business services that facilitate partnerships with businesses.  By creating a new position that focuses on Workforce Development and organizes and supports five Business Development Managers outreach efforts, the agency is addressing specific employment needs of the business to ensure that a good match can be made between the business and the IWD.

The paper will provide three examples of businesses that have worked in partnership with the agency to create employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in response to the new affirmative action requirements.  Through these examples, the paper will describe how various business services and supports strategies differ by business requirements but have the same goals of hiring qualified candidates to fulfill their business needs. Through these examples, the paper will provide perspectives both from involved businesses and from individuals with disabilities themselves.