Lewis Hall stands in suit

Only one-out-of-three Pennsylvanians with a disability are working. It doesn’t have to be that way.

#IWantToWork is part of the Employment First movement, focused in ensuring Pennsylvanians with a disability are able to work – earning competitive wages – alongside people without disabilities.

As we step up our advocacy for Employment first legislation in the General Assembly with Senate Bill 1199 and House Bill 2130, we are working to educate employers on the many benefits of employing people with disabilities and encouraging them to join our coalition. Here’s why it’s important:

  • Pennsylvania has a serious workforce shortage. On any given day, Pennsylvania employers have 200,000 openings and not enough qualified people to fill those jobs. Tens of thousands of people with disabilities are waiting for an opportunity to go to work.
  • Hiring people with disabilities makes sense – and dollars. People with disabilities are exemplary employees, they are loyal, show up on time, don’t abuse sick leave, and turn over rates are low.
  • Young people with disabilities are an untapped pool of summer and part-time workers. They are eager to get their first jobs while in high school and prepare for life after school. Without the experience from part-time or summer employment, more than two-thirds of these young people will never go to work.

This effort must be a joint endeavor between state government and the private sector.  The #IWantToWork campaign is enlisting support from organizations and companies who hire Pennsylvanians with disabilities and support Employment First legislation.

For example, we have partnered with four Chambers of Commerce and one labor union throughout the state:

  • The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce
  • The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
  • The Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce
  • The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
  • Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

Each chamber is supporting the campaign in a variety of ways. Beyond adding their name as supporters, they are continually sharing our Facebook and Twitter postings, and, most importantly, are actively encouraging their members to hire people with disabilities.

We’re not limiting our effort to businesses alone. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, representing hundreds of thousands of unionized workers, is also supporting Employment First.

We urge businesses, labor unions, and other organizations that employ or represent workers to join in the campaign. It’s a matter of economics; hiring people with disabilities makes sense – and justice.

Click here to see our one-pager on this growing movement. Share it with anyone you might think would benefit from joining us.

If you want to join or have questions, contact Lewishall32@gmail.com.

By: Lewis Hall
#IWantToWork Campaign
Business Outreach Specialist


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