DLIR NEWS RELEASE: State awarded $2.25 million for youth disability workforce developmentPosted on Oct 16, 2017 in Latest Department News
Hawaii Youth At Work! Program Expands to Year Around
HONOLULU — The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) was awarded $2.25 million in federal funds to help prepare youth with disabilities to enter the workforce or post-secondary education. The funding enables Hawaii Youth At Work! summer participants to obtain paid work experience during the year, coupled with employment preparation activities.
“The summer program is a resounding success for the youth and it is usually their first paid job,” said DLIR Director Linda Chu Takayama. “We are proud to help expand these opportunities for youth with disabilities to contribute their skills and talents to Hawaii’s workforce.”
The program is a collaboration between the Department of Human Services (DHS) and DLIR. DHS’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division, and Social Services Division counselors and staff work with DLIR workforce staff to place participants in temporary jobs with the State and Counties.
“Despite their ability to occupy a variety of jobs, people with disabilities only account for 20 percent of the workforce, have more than double the unemployment rate compared to the general population and continue to face barriers finding work,” stated DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot. “We’re thrilled to expand this program so these young people have greater opportunity to engage in the workforce and prepare for meaningful employment.”
In 2016, the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) provided 153 youth with disabilities paid work experience in State and County offices on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii. Youth were paid $10.00 an hour and worked up to twenty hours per week during the summer months. SYEP 2017 expanded referrals to include youth participants from the DHS’s Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division and Social Services Division in addition to VR. 125 participants were placed in State and City offices on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii.
The funding will strengthen collaborations with businesses and workforce partners to increase the number of youth with disabilities entering career pathways and accessing workforce services. The grant provides funding for services in the Counites of Hawaii and Maui as well as on Oahu. In addition to DHS, key partners include the University of Hawaii Center on Disability Studies, Department of Education, and American Job Centers.
DLIR previously received $2,923,674 in 2011 and $2,500,000 in 2015 in Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) funds to improve education, training, and employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities. DEI funds help refine and expand workforce strategies proven to be successful, and enhance inclusive service delivery through the public workforce system. Improvements include: increasing the accessibility of American Job Centers (AJC); training front-line AJC and partner staff; and increasing partnerships with businesses that are critical for assisting youth and adults with disabilities in securing meaningful employment.
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