Role will include outreach and education

As part of a continuing effort to promote the employment of people with disabilities, Gov. Malloy recently announced that the Governor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (GCEPD) has been reinvigorated with a new chairperson and committee members from the state's business community, nonprofit organizations, state agencies, and people with disabilities.

"Too many times we hear that employers are having difficulty hiring people with disabilities because they can't find qualified candidates or they are not sure how to find a candidate," Gov. Malloy noted. "One of the main goals of this committee is to help ensure employers and jobseekers have the resources and knowledge they need to make the right connections, be it connections to educational or community resources, access to career fairs, or assistance regarding accommodations in the workplace."

The GCEPD, housed under the state Department of Labor, is a volunteer committee with members appointed by Labor Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer. The newly-appointed chairperson, Jonathan Slifka, also serves as the Governor's Liaison to the Disability Community. State agency appointments include representatives from the Department of Administrative Services, the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind, Department of Transportation, the Labor Department, and the Department of Social Services.

"We are excited to have so many knowledgeable committee members that will be instrumental in helping the GCEPD fulfill its mission of developing programs and initiatives to increase statewide employment opportunities of people with disabilities," Commissioner Palmer noted. "The committee will also support the activities of related organizations throughout the state to tap into available resources and programs."

Initiatives the committee will be looking at include providing career fairs, promoting educational programs that can foster upward mobility in the workplace, and increasing employer awareness of the skills and abilities that a person with a disability brings to the workplace.

"There are so many elements that go into looking at the complete picture of the employment of persons' with disabilities, from education and outreach to transportation," said Chairperson Jonathan Slifka, Governor's Liaison to the Disability Community. I am excited about the group that has been put together and I am eager to get started on this critical mission of bringing more of our disability community in to the workforce."

According to Commissioner Palmer, outreach and education will play a large role in the work of the committee. For example, while an employer may feel that providing accommodations for an employee with disabilities could be expensive, a 2010 Employment of Americans with Disabilities survey revealed that over 70% of the employers reported that no accommodations were needed. Of those making accommodations, 50% said they were made at no cost, and 42% reported that a one-time accommodation cost less than $600.

"Hiring individuals with disabilities makes good business sense for employers and for our state," added Governor Malloy. "Not only is this a valuable pool of skilled workers offering talent, diversity and strong initiative, but employers report that employees with disabilities often have higher retention rates, which can reduce the high cost of turnover."