COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio is aiming to level the playing field for job seekers of all abilities and help employers create more inclusive working environments.
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) hosted a job fair and employer workshop on Wednesday at the 4-H Center at the Ohio State University campus.
It was the biggest employer turnout the agency has received for one of its job fairs, with more than 70 booths showcasing job opportunities around Central Ohio.
More than 300 job seekers registered for the event and some scheduled interviews with certain employers ahead of times.
OOD said its job placement rate is double that of other job fairs.
In addition to connecting prospective employees with hiring managers, the event also offered workshops demonstrating assistive technology and discussing best practices for hiring individuals with disabilities.
“When you hire individuals with disabilities, it’s good for your bottom-line. Your onboarding costs go down, your morale goes up and your productivity goes up. So that’s the message we’re talking about. In the 21st Century, you’ve got to be able to match talent with the jobs that are available,” explained OOD Director Kevin Miller.
Some companies are already recognizing the benefits of hiring workers with disabilities.
Karis Spence, a talent acquisition consultant at Huntington Bank and a board member of OOD, said the company’s employees with disabilities are valuable assets to building a comfortable working space for everyone.
“It really has improved our culture,” Spence said. “Having people of varying abilities in our organizations — it absolutely boosts morale. And it really helps people be a collaborative team.”
OOD offers services to individuals throughout the entire state.
Both its Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR) and Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired (BSVI) help people with disabilities live independently and connect job seekers with employment.
The agency’s Division of Disability Determination (DDD) determines eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income for those not able to work.
Approximately 1.6 million Ohioans identify as having some sort of disability.