Statistics show that individuals with disabilities face much lower rates of employment than those without disabilities. In Massachusetts, only 33 percent of working-age individuals with disabilities are employed or actively seeking employment versus 76 percent of people without disabilities, according to the American Community Survey.
Employers needed to know where to find potential employees who have disabilities and individuals with disabilities needed to know where to connect with employers.
Work Without Limits was established in 2008 with the fledgling Central Massachusetts Employment Collaborative and Business-to-Business Network, a consortium of public and private companies that value an inclusive work environment and learn best practices from one another. The program has expanded its reach with an annual conference and job fair called “Raise the Bar Hire!” that connects individuals with disabilities who seek employment with employers who seek their talents.
Work Without Limits and the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston have partnered with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to educate employers about hiring individuals with disabilities and training staff at state career centers to better serve this population. Work Without Limits received $175,000 to develop and deliver educational sessions aimed at two different audiences through March 2018. This is the second disability employment initiative grant in which Work Without Limits and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development have collaborated.
The program’s portfolio includes Jobs Without Limits, a job board for individuals with disabilities, and BenePLAN, which helps individuals with disabilities understand how working and earning or increasing wages affects their Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income or other public benefits.
Work Without Limits trains employers about hiring individuals with disabilities and best practices for building an inclusive workplace, and dispels myths about their productivity. The program connects individuals with disabilities with potential employers.
Four events are held annually to help accomplish these results. Job candidates are sourced for the career fairs through Work Without Limits’ partnerships with community agencies.