Minnesota recently unveiled Connect 700, a program that will give people with disabilities up to 700 hours of on-the-job work experience in state agencies to demonstrate their abilities. A second supported work program will offer people with disabilities up to 50 full-time positions in state agencies.
The move is part of a longer-term effort by the state to reverse what had been a sharp decline in the state’s employment of people with disabilities. Before Dayton took office, a number of state agencies had stopped tracking the hiring and recruiting of people with disabilities, officials said. Agencies had affirmative action plans, but they lacked specific disability employment goals. As a result, the rate of workers with disabilities in state government had plunged from 10 percent in 1999 to less than 4 percent in 2013.
In August 2014, Dayton directed state agencies to increase the share of disabled workers to at least 7 percent by August 2018. Since then, the state has designed a model for recruiting and hiring people with disabilities, and has mandated quarterly reporting on hiring targets. Currently, the overall percentage of state employees with disabilities is 6.2 percent, but a number of state agencies are still below 4 percent.
Read more from the Minnesota Star Tribune.