|Wednesday, July 19, 2000 |
Tommy G. Thompson
News Media Contact
BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT WORK TOGETHER
TO BRING DISABLED INTO WORKFORCE
MADISON The Department of Workforce Development, in cooperation with the Governors Committee for People With Disabilities, announced today that Wisconsin is initiating a Business Leadership Network, which will work toward bringing more of the disabled into the Wisconsin workforce.
The BLN will be made up of private business representatives, with support from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, who will come up with innovative ways to prepare the disabled for jobs and make the workplace more accessible and open to people with disabilities.
"This partnership will go a long way toward reducing the 70 percent unemployment rate of the disabled, and it couldnt come at a better time," said Tom Dixon, administrator for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. "As employers try to fill thousands of job openings across the state, the BLN will be discussing ways to close those gaps with a population that traditionally has not been able to reap the benefits of employment."
The BLN will be fashioned after a national model created by Tony Coelho, a former California Congressman who has epilepsy. He was a driving force behind the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month. The BLN promotes personnel diversity policies and hiring practices that target candidates with disabilities.
The national steering committee chaired by Thomas J. Donohue, current CEO of the United States Chamber of Commerce, includes 20 leading corporations nationwide; many of them have made innovative technological strides to assist the disabled through voice-activated and assistive technology. One of the primary goals of the Wisconsin BLN is to duplicate those advances.
"The dialogue that will begin with this group will be invaluable to employers who need to fill jobs, and to disabled employees who are ready and willing to work. We look forward to getting started," said Dixon.
Dixon said the DVR is still recruiting business leaders to participate, and is working with the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and local chambers to encourage representation from all corners of the state.
"I cant think of a better way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the ADA than by announcing a new initiative to bring more of our disabled into a workforce that needs them," Dixon said.
Included is a list of BLN members. The DVR is encouraging more businesses to participate.
BUSINESS LEADERSHIP NETWORK MEMBERS
American Automobile Association Madison
Anchor Food Products, Inc. Appleton
First Federal Bank Madison
Full Compass Middleton
Harley-Davidson Motor Company Milwaukee
Kohls Department Store Menomonee Falls
Louisiana Pacific Corporation Hayward
M & I Madison Bank Madison
Madison Newspapers, Inc. Madison
Marcus Hotels and Resorts Milwaukee
Markel Corporation Pewaukee
Performance Packaging Inc. Green Bay
The QTI Group Madison
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Madison
Wisconsin Physicians Service Madison
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