NJBIA is supporting growing efforts to promote and advance the inclusion of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) within the workplace.
This week, three bills that would encourage the hiring of IDD easily passed through the Assembly Human Services Committee.
And earlier this month, NJBIA and other business groups penned a letter to Senate President Steve Sweeney, a leading advocate for adults with developmental disabilities, offering steps that could be taken to enhance opportunities for the IDD community so all residents can have a place in moving New Jersey’s economy forward.
“Many businesses have leaned into hiring individuals with disabilities because of the great value they bring to the workforce,” said NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas. “But certainly, more can be – and should be – done to enhance these opportunities. It is a great to see momentum in this space and we hope some of our recommendations can be helpful to the cause.”
The Commerce & Industry Association of New Jersey, Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce and the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce joined NJBIA in the letter to Senate President Sweeney, with the following recommendations:
- Identify mutual needs of IDD community partners and the business community.
- Provide educational opportunities for IDD community partners and the business community to improve their understanding of current laws Improve point of entry for businesses to work with community partners through efforts to raise awareness on how to hire individuals in the IDD community would make it easier for businesses to do so.
- Enhance coaching for individuals at the job site.
- Recognize businesses that have a successful track record of hiring individuals in the IDD community.
- Address transportation challenges for the IDD community by making efforts to match individuals with local businesses, so they don’t have to rely on longer-distance transportation.
- Provide tax credits to businesses that employ the IDD community.
- Improve access to workforce development that is tailored to the IDD community’s needs.
- Support the workforce of agencies that work with the IDD Community.
Some of those and other recommendations could eventually be formalized. In February, the Senate passed legislation sponsored by Sweeney and Sen. Fred Madden (D-4) to establish a task force to best address the problem of unemployment and underemployment of those in the IDD community.
“About 25% of New Jersey adults have some type of disability, and they have a right, like anyone else, to participate as an independent member of society, and that includes being able to hold a job,” Madden said. “However, there is a clear discrepancy with how few of these adults are in the workforce due to a lack of inclusion by many employers.
This week’s bills advancing in the Assembly Human Services Committee, sponsored by Joann Downey (D-11), Eric Houghtaling (D-11) and Carole A. Murphy (D-7), included:
- A-1015 Establishes public awareness campaign concerning persons with disabilities and employment.
- A-1016 Requires Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development to design and make available to public webpage with employment information for individuals with disabilities.
- A-1017 Requires Division of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action create “Model Employer for People with Disabilities” program for State government.
“These are all important steps to give more people in the IDD community a chance at employment and we hope the business community gets on board,” Buteas said.