Madison -- Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Jennifer Reinert announced today that in the past two months the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) has activated another 1,700 people with disabilities waiting for DVR services. In July of this year, DVR eliminated the waiting lists for Category 1 (those with the most significant disabilities) and Category 2 (those with moderate disabilities) consumers. The most recent activations allow nearly 10,000 people with disabilities to receive DVR services.
In recognition of this milestone, the department will celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October by providing business owners with access to this underutilized pool of talented workers. Currently, 75% of nearly 324,000 people in Wisconsin with a work disability indicate they want to work but face difficulties overcoming employment barriers. In addition, more than 100,000 people with less severe work limitations are currently under-employed.
"In an economy with a tight labor market, it is imperative for businesses to utilize every available opportunity in obtaining or retaining skilled workers in their businesses," said DWD Secretary Jennifer Reinert. "Hiring qualified people with disabilities and older workers simply makes good business sense and during October the Department will highlight the many accomplishments of people with disabilities and share information with employers across the state about how to include people with disabilities in their workforce."
DVR has accomplished many objectives in assisting thousands of people with disabilities obtain career goals. Since elimination of the waiting lists for Category 1 and 2 consumers in July, DVR has immediately served those people with the most significant and significant disabilities, respectively. Last year, DWD also created the DVR Strategic Reform Task Force to implement specific recommendations, strategies and resources to help employers fill job vacancies.
"The Division has made great strides in improving both its internal operations and the available services for people with disabilities," said DVR Administrator Charlene Dwyer.
"These improvements and career resources continue to expand opportunities for employment matches between people with disabilities and employers who need qualified employees. "
Two of DVRís resources include Windmills Training, a nationally proven interactive training program used by IBM, Disneyland, Marriott and Xerox. Windmills helps uncover the stereotypes, myths, biases and fears that create barriers in a businessí attempts to hire people with disabilities and is available at no cost to employers. The Business Leadership Network (BLN) program, with pilot programs currently in Dane/Dodge/Sauk counties and Waukesha/Milwaukee counties, offers employers access to a pool of qualified applicants, disability employment information and a network of companies sharing disability employment issue information. The pilot programs offer employers quarterly training events on specific disability employment issues and can be customized to meet employer needs.