What innovative strategies can employers use to educate and train individuals with disabilities?
Productive workers must have knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors to keep up in a constantly changing workplace. Employers who invest in strategies to educate and train their current and potential workforce strengthen their capacity to remain competitive. Internships, mentoring, and job shadowing offer excellent experience and learning opportunities…a great place to begin or enhance your recruitment and hiring strategies.
Internships for People with Disabilities
Internships are temporary, paid or unpaid positions that engage individuals from high school and college students to career changing adults in on-the-job training opportunities that offer experience and exposure in a particular field.
Internships provide employers with the opportunity to identify and develop their future workforce while supporting the mission and profit of the company.
Where to Find Interns with Disabilities
The Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services can assist employers with finding pre-screened individuals for internships within your business. Contact a DORS Employment Specialist to discuss intern recruitment at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-554-9451.
Maryland's universities' and colleges' disability support services and career services offices offer opportunities to post internships on campus websites and bulletin boards. Be certain to note “Students with disabilities are encouraged to apply.”
Maryland Universities and Colleges: Disability Support Services and Career Services Offices (PDF)
Maryland Universities and Colleges: Disability Support Services and Career Services Offices (Word)
Emerging Leaders and Entry Point! are two national summer internship programs for students with disabilities, with a focus on business leadership and Science Technology Engineering and Math Careers (STEM) areas respectively. They are models to consider when launching an internship program.
The Workforce Recruitment Program is a recruitment and referral program for federal sector employers sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the U.S. Department of Defense. Federal employers have access to a screened database of college students with disabilities. Private sector employers have access to this same WRP database through the Employer’s Assistance and Recruiting Network.
Mentoring and Job Shadowing
Mentoring and Job Shadowing give your business a chance to open your doors to individuals with disabilities interested in learning more about your organization or industry. Mentoring and job shadowing can be arranged by contacting your local schools or community service providers for individuals with disabilities, or can be in conjunction with Disability Mentoring Day a nationwide event held annually on the second Wednesday of October.
Mentoring and job shadowing provide businesses the opportunity to engage their surrounding community, increase their customer base, and learn about the capabilities and interests of future members of the workforce.
Click here to read how a Baltimore area hospital participated in Disability Mentoring Day to support diversity in employee recruitment.
Resources to Educate
Emerging Leaders is a highly competitive program that places undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities in fulfilling summer internships and provides them with leadership development opportunities.
Entry Point! is a program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) offering outstanding internship opportunities for students with apparent and non-apparent disabilities in science, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and some fields of business.