Opportunity At Work: Nevada’s Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation Offers Incentives and Assistance to Employers Who Hire People with Disabilities

During these tough economic times, Nevada employers are coming up with inventive ideas to improve their business processes and bottom lines. One of those ways is by taking advantage of federal and state incentives offered when tapping into the talented pool of jobseekers who have disabilities.

Nationwide, corporations are realizing the cost savings and other benefits to hiring people with disabilities. Walgreens, TJ Max, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Macy’s and many others are reaping the rewards of staffing their businesses with these individuals who are highly competent and often more enthusiastic about their jobs.

The disability community is the third largest American market segment, ahead of African Americans, Hispanics and teens. In the US, 1 in 5 persons is living with a disability. According to the Office of Disability Employment Policy, that represents a trillion dollars in purchasing power. In Nevada, 9 to 9.9 percent of working age individuals have a disability, which is almost 10 percent of the entire working age population, and the proportion of employees with disabilities is expected to grow as “Baby Boomers” age. It stands to reason that a demographic that size would be greatly represented in the workforce.

Many would be surprised at just how extensive the benefits are for hiring people with disabilities. In Nevada, there is a $3.67 return on investment for every taxpayer dollar spent on Nevada Vocational Rehabilitation in 2011. Additionally, according to Think Beyond the Label, a public-private partnership promoting the hiring of disabled individuals, the total savings to a business for hiring a person with a disability is almost $40,000. These incentives come by way of Work Opportunity Tax Credit of up to $2400; Disabled Access Credit for 50 percent of eligible expenditures over $250 and up to $10,500 a year/tax bill reduced to $5000; Barrier Removal Tax Deduction up to $15,000 a year. Also, partnering with State Vocational Rehabilitation for candidate identification/screening, on-the-job- training, job coaching, work attire, assistive technology, in total typically can be worth over $10,000.

The State of Nevada, Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation provides a gamut of services to help people with disabilities. In addition, the state assists employers in helping people with disabilities perform successfully in their places of business.

Primary services to clients include training (on-the-job-training and classroom based), higher education, assistive technology for the workplace, counseling and guidance, treatment of impairments and transportation. For employers the Rehabilitation Division can refer job ready candidates who are enthusiastic, dedicated and hard working.

Research has shown that individuals with disabilities are punctual, productive and just as capable as any other employee.

Partnership is the key. There are amazing resources in place to help businesses find qualified applicants and reasonable accommodation solutions for hiring people with disabilities. Businesses that have a culture of inclusiveness of all diverse populations are typically well respected in the community and maintain a positive work environment for employees. Studies have shown that companies that make it comfortable for employees to self-disclose their disabilities appreciate increased employee engagement, job satisfaction, commitment, retention and reduced turnover and absenteeism.

DETR’s Rehabilitation Division is dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities realize their career and education goals while at the same time showing employers how people with disabilities can be a tremendous business asset. Employers are invited to let DETR show them Opportunity at Work and what benefits await. There is staff available in offices throughout the state.

Frank Woodbeck is director of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.