From October 2010 through September 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) awarded grants to 55 projects in 30 states to improve education, training, and employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities through the Disability Employment initiative (DEI). DEI was jointly funded with the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and administered by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA).

Thanks to DEI, Disability Resource Coordinators (DRCs) across the country have served on the front lines to help strengthen the capacity of American Job Centers (AJC) to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

As AJC services have been forced to move into primarily virtual and remote formats, workforce systems across the country, including those that were a part of DEI, have begun implementing new and creative ways to continue providing quality service delivery that includes customers with disabilities. To help put a spotlight on these innovations, WorkforceGPS is expanding its Seen & Heard series to highlight how DEI has helped the public workforce system adapt to this new environment while continuing to ensure full access and inclusivity.

(New) Making Virtual Job Fairs Virtually Accessible  In 2020, American Job Centers were challenged with finding new ways to connect job seekers and employers. One strategy used by the Virginia DEI to increase access was the development of Virtual Job Fair Preparation Webinars. Since May 2020, Virginia Career Works has conducted six preparation webinars with over 50 percent of job seeker participants either invited for a formal interview or made a job offer. The strategies are now standard practice for every Virginia Career Works virtual job fair.

Virtual Job ToursSince July 2020, WorkHawaii has been holding monthly virtual job tours for both in-school and out-of-school youth between the ages of 16-24. The WorkHawaii Youth Program uses all 14 elements of WIOA Youth Programs for the virtual job tours.

Drive Thru Job Fair – In New York’s Otsego County, Barbara Ann Heegan, CEO of the Otsego Chamber of Commerce partnered with Alan Sessions, the DEI Disability Resource Coordinator and the Chenango-Delaware-Otsego Workforce American Job Center to hold a “Drive-Thru Job Fair” that not only complied with safe social distancing guidelines, but also kept accessibility in mind from start to finish.