MISSOURI (KFVS) - Governor Mike Parson signed Executive Order 19-16 on Monday, September 9 mandating Missouri state agencies to hire more people with disabilities.
The measure announced the commencement of the Missouri as a Model Employer initiative and sets annual goals to make sure more Missourians with disabilities get competitive, integrated employment.
According to the governor’s office, the classification is an emerging trend supported by the federal Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.
Currently, the governor’s office reports 79.8 percent of work age individuals in Missouri without a disability are employed while only 37.1 percent of working age individuals with a disability are employed.
The largest employers in Missouri are state agencies and this initiative aims to lead by example, showing private employers how to recruit, hire and retain more employees with disabilities.
Kevin Smith directs Blue Sky Community Services which offers employment programs to people with developmental disabilities.
Smith believes they are an untapped resource, capable of excelling in the workplace with a little training.
"People with disabilities have the same goals that we have in that fact that they want to be happy, healthy and productive," Smith said. "And people with disabilities are good for businesses. For the most part they've been proven to be dependable when they get a job, they really value that job, they want to be there and they want to be part of that."
Expanding job opportunities for people with disabilities can also save the federal and state government money by cutting down on how many people are dependent on disability-related benefits.
The Office of Administration will also designate a State Disability Employment Coordinator or Coordinators to advise and support state agencies.
To help with the launch of the initiative, a Missouri as a Model Employer Talent Showcase will take place at the state Capitol on Oct. 10.