Finding meaningful work is a goal many people strive to achieve, and people with developmental disabilities often want the same opportunity. Since Ohio’s Employment First initiative was signed into law four years ago, it has raised the expectations for people of working age with developmental disabilities.
The initiative also required data tracking for employment services providers and County Boards of DD. This information, which includes wages received, type of work, transportation, number of hours worked per week, benefits received and other data, can be analyzed for trends to help guide decisions and resources in the future.
In Hamilton County, it’s no surprise that nearly 40 percent of people with disabilities work in the food service industry, which has long been a strong employer of people with disabilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “restaurants and other eating places have gained 1.2 million jobs since 2010.” Strong job growth in this sector helped more people with developmental disabilities to find jobs.
Marketing, sales and retail is the second most popular occupation type with 25 percent of the total jobs. Many retailers are able to utilize people with developmental disabilities in various roles within their respective organization. Providers of employment supports are working diligently to build and maintain relationships with hiring managers so customized options for employment are becoming available. Many large retailers such as CVS, Walgreens and Kroger, to name a few, are now concentrating on developing disability hiring initiatives to increase diversity in their respective organizations. This is a positive trend and will help to increase options for job seekers in the future.
The healthcare job category is currently at 3 percent of the total employment picture in Hamilton County. National trends in this field indicate that there will be substantial opportunity for employment growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “healthcare industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and to add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024.” This substantial growth could lead to more opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to contribute in the healthcare field. Marketing and outreach to this industry may be a sound strategy over the upcoming years.
Our data, in the chart below, represents more than 10 occupation types, which shows more businesses are beginning to see the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. It’s also encouraging to see more available career options for people with developmental disabilities, who have the right to make informed decisions about their chosen career path to obtain jobs in community settings that meet their individual needs.
People with developmental disabilities can complete almost any type of work when given the opportunity. Employment is a priority for Hamilton County DD Services, and we will continue to work with businesses to expand opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to live and work in their communities.
Nathan Beck is the Employment Coordinator for Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services.