As the nation's economy contracts due to Covid, the increasing number of layoffs we are experiencing will be accompanied by major restructuring of work environments to accommodate public health concerns, including the potential for long-term workforce downsizing particularly in retail and service sectors. Employed persons with disabilities often occupy these types of jobs that are usually entry-level and unskilled and have not well been prepared through education and skills training to pivot to jobs that will be in demand in the future. Some may have needed the presence of an onsite job coach that employers may not be able to accomodate in social-distance reconfigured spaces. Social and economic exclusion of people with disabilities including those transitioning from homelessness, and veterans with disabilities who see a return to work as a path to recovery and self-sufficiency may be exacerbated as jobs at the lower rung of the employment ladder become scarcer. The disability employment and recovery field must re-tool and accelerate career pathways focused training for people with disabilities for jobs in an altered future economy. They must do that in partnership with education and employers rather than continuing traditional place and train methods that have not appreciably improved the employment rate among people with disabilities, even when the national unemployment rate was low. These traditional models are even less likely to be effective as the unemployment rate increases and as employment sectors adjust to the impacts of the worldwide pandemic. Otherwise, people with disabilities will remain more at risk of poverty, disenfranchisement, and disengagement from the mainstream workforce -whatever that may be in its 'new normal'.
Idea No. 3376