#InclusionWorks: Celebrating Diversity in the Workplace

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a time to focus on the value that workers with disabilities bring to the workplace. With nearly 20% of the working age population represented by people with disabilities (think one in five), employing workers with disabilities is a timely and important topic to the workforce development community.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month Poster

Disability employment is an important facet of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), as explored in Section 188, which was originally enacted with Workforce Investment Act (WIA) in 1998 and continues to apply to the updated WIOA legislation of 2015. Section 188 seeks to prevent discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or political affiliation or belief.

To assist American Job Centers with understanding and applying inclusionary practices, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) developed “Promising Practices in Achieving Universal Access and Equal Opportunity: A Section 188 Disability Reference Guide.” Other resources, like The Disability and Employment Community of Practice, educate employers and workforce staff on providing services and programs to people with disabilities.

To celebrate and promote awareness of NDEAM, we’ve prepared a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts for making your workplace or American Job Center more inclusive:

Do…

  • Test your website, online applications, recruitment material, and social media content for accessibility. (See Section 508 for detailed info on accessibility standards.) The America’s JobLink system is routinely tested for accessibility using the SSB BART Group’s Accessibility Management Platform (AMP). AMP is a web-based solution for meeting Section 508, Americans with Disabilities (ADA), WCAG, and other compliance needs.
  • Provide accommodations for public spaces and events, such as considering the height of display tables, offering a variety of publication formats, or being prepared with assistive technology.
  • Participate in internship, mentorship, and hiring programs for students and recent grads with disabilities.
  • Consider the needs of employees with disabilities when developing emergency management plans.

Don’t…

Have something to add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

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The Answer Is… What Is CTE?

February is CTE Month®, a month dedicated to spreading awareness of Career and Technical Education (CTE) and its role in creating an educated and skilled workforce who are prepared for in-demand careers. As the due date for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state plans draws closer (April 1, 2016), CTE is a topic on many state’s WIOA agendas.

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 is one of the 11 optional programs that can be included as part of a Combined State Plan for WIOA implementation. However, CTE must be addressed in Unified State Plans as well: Every state must describe how the six core programs will “align and coordinate” with CTE programs and activities currently in place and how the state will partner with CTE going forward (“Implementing FAQs”).

CTE is a vital part of education and career pathways for current and future generations in the workforce. CTE programs emphasize the integration of education and on-the-job training, with the end goal of the participant not only receiving a high school diploma, but also earning a post-secondary credential for in-demand career skills. CTE is organized into 16 Career Clusters® that offer specialized, streamlined instruction for following more than 79 Career Pathways. By offering stackable credentials, CTE programs ensure that students are not duplicating previous coursework but instead are earning certification and valuable experience that builds toward a post-secondary credential. These credentials incorporate work-based learning through internships and apprenticeships so students receive on-the-job training that prepares them for their future careers.

CTE Career Clusters

Did you know America’s JobLink (AJL) can help you track CTE providers and performance measures? When registering as a new training provider in the ProviderLink (Eligible Training Provider list) section of AJL, the school/institution can be identified as a “Public Community/Technical School/College” or “Private Career School/College,” which helps to identify CTE providers. Providers can enter their performance data for individual programs, while the public can search for and view provider information including program offerings and  provider Consumer Report Cards. Workforce center staff can add services/training from CTE providers to client records in ServiceLink and pull reports by school. If you have any questions about how to use this functionality, don’t hesitate to contact us (Brooke Patterson, bpatterson@ajla.net).

As your state prepares to submit its final WIOA implementation plan, you can learn more about CTE and its integration with WIOA through the following resources:

If you have any comments or questions about CTE and WIOA or have been involved in CTE programs yourself as a student, teacher, or administrator, please let us know; we’d love to hear from you.