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Big Pool of Skilled Workers Going Unnoticed by Iowa Employers

October 10, 2008

Des Moines, IA - In Iowa, nearly 200,000 skilled workers are being overlooked by many employers at a time when such workers are at a premium. Barb McClannahan with Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services says they are people with disabilities who are ready to go to work at a moment's notice.

As part of "National Disability Employment Awareness Month," Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services is trying to convince employers to hire new workers and retain existing ones who may now be joining the ranks of those with disabilities, such as returning veterans.

"Many of them are returning with newly-acquired disabilities. They still have the skills and abilities to do the work they were doing before they left, but they may need an accommodation."

McClannahan says Iowa businesses can get answers to common questions about hiring or retaining someone with a disability through the Employer Disability Resource Network.

"An employer may wonder how those with disabilities can do the job. The employer can see they have the skills and abilities, but they aren't quite sure how they would go about it, because they may accomplish the task differently than you or I might."

McClannahan says businesses can become "disability-friendly" by taking measures such as accessible entrances to restrooms, and providing water fountains and telephones that are accessible.

A full checklist is available at www.edrnetwork.org.

Those looking for more information on hiring people with disabilities can find additional resources online at www.edrn.iowa.gov.

Dick Layman/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - IA