[Missouri-l] Governors focusing on hiring PWDS
paltschul at centurytel.net
Tue Jul 17 18:30:36 CDT 2012
Jack Markell, NGA Chairman, Will Focus On Jobs For The Disabled
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- The new chairman of the National Governors
Association plans to focus his year at the helm on developing
ways that states can help those with disabilities find jobs.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D), who assumed the top spot at the
close of the NGA's annual conference Sunday morning, wants the
association to research and put together a toolkit for states
seeking to develop programs for hiring people with disabilities,
including in partnerships with business. He succeeds Nebraska
Gov. Dave Heineman (R), who focused his chairmanship year on
state economic development.
Markell told The Huffington Post that he first became interested
in the issue of jobs for the disabled -- primarily individuals
with developmental disabilities -- about nine years ago when as
Delaware's treasurer he was touring a company and met a
25-year-old disabled man who was making T-shirts. Markell said
he asked the man what he was doing before he got the job.
"He told me that he sat at home for six years watching television
with his parents," Markell recalled. "[The job] was a huge
impact for his quality of life."
According to Labor Department statistics for 2011, 17.8 percent
of Americans with a disability are employed, compared to 63.6
percent of those with no disability. The statistics also show
that 15.0 percent of individuals with disabilities are
unemployed, compared to 8.7 percent of those without
Markell plans to convene a series of regional meetings around the
country to meet with business leaders and advocates for the
disabled in order to review what is working and what isn't. He
said he intends to use the forums to develop blueprints for
governors on how to implement the good ideas in their states.
The regional meeting approach is similar to how Heineman pursued
his economic development initiative.
Markell also said that he will reach out directly to business
leaders, noting that several companies have had success in their
efforts to increase hiring of people with disabilities. He cited
an initiative by Walgreens and added that other companies,
including Best Buy, IBM, Merck and Procter and Gamble, are
working on similar programs.
According to Markell, Walgreens has created distribution centers
where a large percentage of workers have developmental
disabilities and the company provides coaches to help them. He
said he would like to explore how the latter strategy could be
made feasible for small businesses, possibly through the sharing
Within his own state of Delaware, Markell said he has not really
pushed this issue since becoming governor in 2009 but he intends
to do so as part of the learning process during his year running
The NGA chairmanship rotates annually between the two parties,
with the vice chairman ascending to the chairman's slot the next
year. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) was elected to the vice
chairmanship on Sunday.
Markell's initiative is a departure from prior NGA projects in
its scope. Previous chairmen have tended to focus on broader
topics, including Heineman's economic development plan, former
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell's focus on infrastructure in
2008-2009, and former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening's smart
growth initiative in 2000-2001. Markell said that he wanted to
go a different route.
"I was looking for something to have a big impact on," Markell
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