BATON ROUGE – Recognizing the state’s need to include citizens with disabilities in the workforce, Gov. Bobby Jindal proclaimed October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Louisiana.
Since 1945, Congress has designated October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month to educate the public about disability and employment. This year’s official theme is “Talent Has No Boundaries: Workforce Diversity INCLUDES Workers With Disabilities.” The national theme recognizes that workers with disabilities represent a diverse and vibrant talent pool for hire.
Throughout the month in Louisiana, several public awareness and regional events, including the 2010 WORK PAY$ Job Fairs and Mini Symposiums, are scheduled to take place to benefit both job-ready citizens with disabilities and local businesses. The free job fairs will take place in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Houma, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, New Orleans, Slidell and Shreveport.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission’s Disability Program Navigator (DPN) Initiative is spearheading the statewide Job Fairs and Mini Symposiums and the Department of Health and Hospital’s Medicaid Purchase Plan is sponsoring the events through its federal Medicaid Infrastructure Grant. The WORK PAY$ Coalition, a consortium of agencies working together to increase the employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in Louisiana, is responsible for coordinating the events.
Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS), an agency that is now within the LWC, helps people with disabilities obtain or maintain employment through its Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program. In 2009, LRS serviced more than 29,000 Louisiana citizens with disabilities through the VR Program. The VR program offers individuals with disabilities services designed to provide them with skills, resources, attitudes and expectations needed to find employment and develop lifelong careers.
These agencies are working together to break down employment barriers and dispel common misconceptions while reinforcing the national message of hiring individuals with disabilities. Since the job fair initiative began six years ago, roughly 8,900 job seekers have been connected with more than 1,000 businesses across the state.
For more detailed information on the job fairs including dates, locations, times or to register, visit www.work-pays.org or contact Kisha C. Thomas, LWC’s state lead/project coordinator for the DPN Initiative at 225-342-7651.
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