The Department of Labor held a “Twitter chat” to discuss new rules regarding the hiring of veterans and the disabled to help increase their employment opportunities. The initiative corresponds with an executive order by President Obama in 2010 that committed the federal government to hire 100,000 disabled Americans over the next 5 years. With the new law, private sector companies that contract with the federal government will be required to set a goal to hire veterans and this disabled at a rate between 7-8% of their workforce.
The new rules are additions to 2 existing laws on the books since the 70s: the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. The laws were implemented to compel federal contractors and subcontractors to affirmatively recruit, hire, train and promote qualified individuals. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said, “These rules make it easier for employers to tap into a large, diverse pool of qualified candidates.”
Read more below the jump.Patricia A. Shiu, director of the DOL's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which enforces both laws, believes the updated rules signal great progress. “Strengthening these regulations is an important step toward reducing barriers to real opportunities for veterans and individuals with disabilities,” Shiu said.
According to the Kessler Foundation, 70% of Americans with disabilities are unemployed and they say that translates to near 10 million potential taxpayers. The national organization is a public-private collaborative working with Fortune 500 companies and government entities to increase training and employment of people with disabilities. Kessler CEO told CNBC,
“What we have been focused on at the Kessler Foundation is how can we demonstrate to American corporations that hiring people w disabilities adds to their bottom line, potent to their market share and does something great thats helps an individual feel like they are contributing to society again.”
Walgreens is one of those major corporations, and its CEO also appeared on CNBC confirming the merits of the program, “People with disabilities, they want to work and they absolutely can become qualified.”
The Twitter chat was an opportunity for individuals and employers to communicate directly with the DOL and other agencies on how the new rules affect them and how they can begin a smooth implementations of the changes. The DOL has also rolled out a website that dedicated to increasing access to web-based content called “Improving the Accessibility of Social Media in Government.” From the site's introduction, “As social content, data, and platforms become more diverse, agencies have a responsibility to ensure these digital services are accessible to all citizens, including people with disabilities.” To address this the DOL also created a Social Media Accessibility Working Group that will help curate and share best practices.
It is a positive development to see that after the internet was given credit for helping with the historic election and reelection of President Obama that it is now being used to help those like veterans who have given so much of their live already, and the disabled who are willing and qualified to work.