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Although New Jersey has made great strides in recent years to encourage and support the hiring of disabled individuals, there is still more that the Legislature and businesses community can do to advance inclusive employment, NJBIA told an Assembly committee on Monday.

In written testimony to the Assembly Human Services Committee, NJBIA Deputy Chief Government Affairs Officer Ray Cantor discussed NJBIA’s efforts in this space as well as various bills pending in the Legislature that NJBIA support to increase the success of inclusive hiring initiatives.

Cantor noted that as many as one in five New Jerseyans has some type of disability, but the employment rate for New Jersey adults with disabilities is only 37.7%.

“While many individuals with disabilities have unique skills and the desire to work, they face challenges navigating the job market,” Cantor said. Boosting inclusive hiring grows the state’s economy and empowers disabled people to provide for themselves and their families, he said.

“Employing disabled people benefits employers as well,” Cantor pointed out. “Hiring individuals with disabilities increases an organization’s diversity and introduces employees with different perspectives and skills into the workforce. Employees with disabilities have high retention rates – 85% – according to the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities.”

Cantor said there are many public and private resources available to connect employers to people with disabilities who are seeking employment, and some groups even provide job coaches to assist with training and on-boarding.

Nonprofit groups include the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities, Easterseals New Jersey, the New Jersey Association for Community Providers, Spectrum Works, and The Arc of New Jersey. The state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Office of Apprenticeships are also useful resources.

However, there is still more that can be done to improve workforce participation among the disability community, Cantor said. Challenges include uneven transitional services in some school districts, inadequate public transportation networks in some parts of the state, and the need to help employers defray the cost of adaptive equipment and workplace modifications required for disabled employees.

NJBIA was among the various business and advocacy groups for the disabled invited to testify before the Assembly committee about current employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities and how to improve hiring outcomes.

Cantor expressed NJBIA’s support for the following bills now pending in the Legislature that would assist employers in their efforts to make workplaces more inclusive and help disabled people obtain greater financial independence:

  • A-479 (Murphy/Moen) – Allows corporation business tax and gross income tax credits to businesses employing certain persons with developmental disabilities
  • A-681 (Verrelli/Benson/Mukherji) – Allows credit against corporation business tax and gross income tax liability for employing persons with a developmental disability; or A-904 (Peterson/Wimberly) – Provides employers with various tax incentives for hiring persons with disabilities under insurance premiums tax, corporation business tax and gross income tax
  • A-787 (Simonsen/McClellan) – Directs Secretary of Higher Education to develop career and education guide for postsecondary students with disabilities
  • A-1112 (Chaparro/Benson/Haider) – Requires DHS and other appropriate state agencies to disseminate information on transportation options for persons with developmental disabilities
  • A-1313 (Greenwald/Benson/McKnight) – Establishes program in NJDOLWD to connect persons with disabilities with job training and employment
  • A-1693 (Quijano/Giblin/Chaparro) – Creates résumé bank for certain persons with disabilities
  • A-2242 (Lopez/Benson/Jaffer) – Requires DOT, NJT, and DHS to study and implement transportation mobility and accessibility improvements for persons with autism and developmental disabilities
  • A-3779 (Reynolds-Jackson/Verrelli/Wimberly) – Requires Office of Information Technology to establish centralized, one-stop website resource guide to assist persons in navigating the State’s developmental disability service system