The New Workforce Innovation for Florida’s Disabled

By | August 26, 2014

Fewer than 30% of Florida’s civilians with disabilities, ages 18-64, living in the community were employed in 2012 and fewer than 2000 transition-aged students with disabilities entered the workforce during that year.

But with the passage and signing of theWorkforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014 employment opportunities for Floridians with disabilities is about to improve.

What is the WIOA?

The WIOA is bipartisan, bicameral legislation established to improve our nation’s workforce development system in the effort to get Americans back to work. They believe education and workforce development opportunities are essential to maintaining a strong middle class. Not only is their intent to prepare workers for the 21st century workforce, but also to assist businesses in finding skilled employees in order to compete and create jobs in America.

How Does This Apply to Americans with Disabilities in Florida?

Right now people with disabilities have the highest rate of unemployment of any other group, and more than two-thirds do not participate in the workforce at all. The WIOA hopes to change all of that.

According to the Disability Rights Florida website they report that, “The WIOA will require Florida to place greater priority on young people with disabilities,such as ensuring that young people are provided more opportunities to practice and improve work skills, more chances to consider what interests them in a career, and more ways to get real world work experience. The WIOA will also require that Florida’s VR agencies provide pre-employment transition services to all students with disabilities; better coordinate with transition services provided under the IDEA; and better align disability programs to ensure services, technology, and support is provided for young individuals with disabilities to lead inclusive and successful lives after school.

How do they Plan on Reaching their Goal?

The WIOA wants to make sure that individuals with disabilities get the training, skills, services, and support necessary to be successful in businesses that provide competitive, integrated employment. They plan to improve the integration of basic adult education, occupational skills training, and use of career pathways for persons with disabilities; especially as it applies to young people transitioning from education to employment.

Ann Robinson of Disability Rights Florida says, “If you are a young person with a disability or if you have ever helped raise, teach, or employ a young person with a disability, you know how important the dreams of work and independence are and how unfair the obstacles can be. We hope the WIOA will be a game changer for Florida’s youth,”

For more information, read asummary about the act on the United States House of Representatives website. Also, thus.