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The Maryland Employment Network proudly announces the first Diverse Abilities Job Fair was a tremendous success! Rooted in MD-EN’s implementation of county-based roundtables filled with leaders selected from the disability, employment, and community sectors, this joint effort of MD-EN, MD Dept. of Labor, Div. of Rehabilitative Services, Susquehanna Workforce Network, and the Harford County Office of Disability identified the need for a truly unique hiring initiative that would successfully bridge the gap between sustainable, competitive employment and jobseekers with disabilities.  This collaborative effort has changed the face of job fairs throughout the state of Maryland, “This is different than anything we have ever done in the past, the individual pieces are not necessarily new, but putting them into a single unit changes everything,” said Liz Rodriguez, MD Dept of Labor.

The Diverse Abilities Job Fair program is a three pronged event taking place over a six week period. First, the Disability Hiring Seminar for Employers includes  understanding employment supports, disability tax credits, ADA, and similar topics. Second, the Job Seeker Prep Session includes job fair expectations, resume and cover letter writing, preparing for online interviews, and online applications with assessments. And, finally, the Diverse Abilities Job Fair which allows the opportunity to share community resource information for disabled jobseekers, and  bring together employers who are prepared to increase diversity, equity, and inclusivity in the workplace and jobseekers.

The lead up to the May 17th Diverse Abilities Job Fair brought together more than 100 businesses interested in knowing more about hiring individuals with disabilities, providing MD-EN with names, HR contacts, and direct contact information for hiring purposes and 54 Disability Hiring Seminar attendees. More than an estimated 30 jobseekers attended the 90-minute Job Seeker Prep Session – that number is estimated as some attended in group settings. Ultimately, eleven large reaching corporations and government organizations were selected to present at the job fair, including the US Department of Labor who discussed Schedule A hiring; these employers presented to 57 jobseekers with disabilities.

This 6-week event provided extensive outreach for MD-EN with more than 170 people learning about Ticket to Work with 18 direct requests for information about ticket assignment, as of this date.