Employers Tap into New Talent from Ability Beyond to Fill Crucial Positions with Skilled Workers

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In this era of record-low unemployment and job-creating executive orders, non-profit Ability Beyond tackles recruiting challenges locally and nationally by connecting companies with jobseekers with disabilities.

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Brendan Loughran is one of the many skilled workers with disabilities that nonprofit Ability Beyond has placed at companies like ABB Optical Group in Hawthorne, NY.

“The talent pool of people with disabilities is so diverse, employers can be assured that workers with disabilities are an asset to the business. They come with a wide range of education, degrees, professional certifications, work experience and skills.”

2019 is certainly poised for economic growth, with Amazon building a second headquarters in New York, and tech companies and service-oriented industries multiplying. Combined with President Trump’s executive orders calling for 21st century job training programs to address the “skills crisis”, employers are now faced with finding people who want to be trained in order to fill over 6 million open positions.

One organization that is uniquely positioned to assist employers to fill the gap is Ability Beyond. Ability Beyond is a leading non-profit agency offering residential, job training and placement, career counseling, cognitive and life skills instruction, clinical and therapeutic support, and volunteer and recreational services for adults with disabilities. Headquartered in Bethel, CT and Chappaqua, NY, the organization serves more than 3,000 families annually at 140 residences and facilities in 90 communities throughout Connecticut and New York.

“In this era of record-low unemployment, nearly 40% of employers are having challenges hiring qualified employees, while at the same time one in four people in our country have some type of disability and are facing challenges in getting hired,” explained Jane Davis, CEO at Ability Beyond. “Utilizing our expertise, we tackle the recruiting challenge companies are facing AND the disproportionate unemployment rate of people with disabilities from both ends of the issue. Through our Disability Solutions diversity inclusion consulting practice, we work with industry-leading businesses nationally, connecting them with our national network of job seekers with disabilities, while our CT and NY services at Ability Beyond work with qualified, skilled jobseekers to fulfill the hiring needs of our local communities. We recognized that by providing services that solved the recruiting, diversity inclusion and compliance needs of companies, we could more effectively meet our mission in our local service areas and shift the employment picture for jobseekers with disabilities on a national scale.”

The talent pool of job seekers with disabilities, which currently consists of more than 20% of the population, has historically been at a disadvantage when seeking employment, and continues to be disproportionately underrepresented within the American workforce. Today, the unemployment rate among people with disabilities is over 9%, nearly double the 4.2% among the overall population. The Department of Labor reported in 2017 that labor force participation was only 18.7% for people with disabilities compared with 65.7% for people without disabilities.

“But we can change that,” said Carrie O’Connell-Davidson, Services Director at Ability Beyond. “Because the talent pool of people with disabilities is so diverse, employers can be assured that talent with disabilities are an asset to the business. They come with a wide range of education, degrees, professional certifications, work experience and skills.”

Tier ONE Machining in Newtown, Conn is one of the many companies that have successfully filled open positions by working with Ability Beyond. The company requires skilled, focused workers to provide precision machining and manufacturing, packaging and assembly solutions for function critical, highly engineered parts and assemblies. They hired Aimee Giordano and she has quickly become of one of their star performers, motivated to exceed her goals. Her ability to concentrate allows her to produce a consistent, cost-effective products.

Tier ONE Machining’s experience illustrates the findings of the Institute for Corporate Productivity that analyzes the practices of high-performance organizations. The Institute reported in a 2014 survey that many employers believe that their employees with disabilities offer specific benefits to their workplaces. The study notes “The positive impact on the workforce is brought about in two ways: hiring individuals with disabilities adds highly motivated people to the workforce (which can lead to increased productivity) and it promotes an inclusive culture that appeals to the talent pool organizations want to attract.”

Additionally, ABB Optical Group in Hawthorne, NY has been an employer partner with Ability Beyond for less than a year but has already grown from employing one person to a dozen after successfully hiring Brendan Loughran. Brendan graduated from Fairfield University in CT with a Bachelor’s degree in History.

"Working with Ability Beyond has been a great experience,” said Marlin Rodriguez, talent acquisition specialist at ABB Optical Group. “Not only do they offer onsite supports to their clients, but their candidates are amazing people willing to go the extra mile to do the best job possible.”

Global brands such as PepsiCo, Raytheon, American Express, Aramark, Synchrony, and others have contracted with Disability Solutions to develop and implement a national strategy to reach talent with disabilities. As a result, they are recognizing measurable and meaningful business outcomes. Hiring people with disabilities is not about charity, but about smart business.

“We have moved the needle on key HR benchmarks across our client base including an average 14% higher retention rate, 53% higher rate of self-identification, decreased time to fill key positions, and a range of diversity within disability including 21% veterans with disabilities,” said Kris Foss, Managing Director of Disability Solutions, the disability inclusion consulting practice of Ability Beyond.

Ability Beyond is a 501{c} (3) organization headquartered in Bethel, CT and Chappaqua, NY. It provides a wide range of services for over 3,000 people with disabilities that inhibit their activities of daily living -- including numerous residential alternatives, employment training, career counseling, job placement services, cognitive and life skills instruction, clinical and therapeutic support and volunteer and recreational activities. Today, its services extend far beyond the Danbury community into much of Connecticut and Hudson Valley, New York. For more information about Ability Beyond visit http://www.abilitybeyond.org and http://www.disabilitytalent.org to learn more about their Disability Solutions consulting practice.


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Alisa Picerno
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