Disability employment awareness is crucial to building inclusive and accessible workplaces. While 67.8% of people without a disability participate in the workplace, only 22.5% of people with a disability do.1,2
In an effort to recognize this disparity and help reduce its impact, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee recently held a virtual National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) Summit. The first of its kind, this event provided employment information for people seeking employment, including people with disabilities as well as those who support people with disabilities. A total of 224 individuals attended the NDEAM Summit, comprising job seekers, community partners, UnitedHealthcare employees and members.
Attendees learned about the internship program, UHC Pathways, and marketability tips for those seeking employment and those supporting people seeking employment. The event also featured a panel on employability and interview skills featuring members of the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee leadership team. The team collaborated with various agencies to hold the summit, including the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Caregiver Tennessee and WorkAbleTN.
Paid internship program prepares individuals with disabilities for employment
UHC Pathways is a paid internship program that prepares individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for the workplace. Adults and students who are in transition programs work with staff to learn new skills that lead to employment such as assessments and screenings, applications, interviews and orientation meetings. Mentors also work with participants and employers to provide guidance and increase the chances of successful outcomes.
Communication between UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee and community-based organizations through UHC Pathways and the NDEAM Summit is an important way to support open dialogue and to learn about opportunities for workers with disabilities.
Employment equity for people with disabilities is a critical goal for all
This year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month was focused on employment equity for people with disabilities. It also centered on ways to identify and eliminate barriers for this historically underserved community.
One way to foster diverse and inclusive hiring practices for individuals with disabilities is sharing job opportunities with internal and external partners and educating them about available supports and inclusive hiring practices.
Participating agencies were selected because they help people with disabilities make informed choices about employment. They also provide encouragement and resources as job seekers move along individualized pathways to employment. Assisting people with disabilities in preparing for and finding competitive integrated employment in Tennessee is one of the critical roles these agencies play.
Community-based organizations are well-positioned to build trusted relationships with individuals with disabilities and help them better understand their rights. Since many individuals with disabilities are members of Medicaid and are served by UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee, when we work together, we can provide better access to training-related services and improved employment opportunities for members and others in the community as well.