Program Launched To Encourage Hiring Of Floridians With 'Unique Abilities'

Oct 28, 2016

The Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program is officially up and running. One of the initiative’s goals is to reduce the unemployment rate among people who have disabilities.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Cissy Proctor says the program will show how having a disability is not a barrier to employment.

“Currently, Florida’s unemployment rate for those with unique abilities is higher than the national rate, higher than the state rate, is disproportionately higher in some of areas of the state over others,” said Proctor, during the recent launch event. “And, this program is designed to highlight businesses that are attacking that.”

Whitney Harris leads the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program to help place Floridians with disabilities into temporary employment.
Credit Florida Chamber of Commerce's Youtube

So far, Walgreens, AT&T, and SeaWorld are among those designated as a Unique Abilities Partner, and Whitney Harris with the Florida Chamber Foundation wants even more businesses to take part. Harris was born without a right arm or leg.

“I’m proud as a person with a disability to see different groups in Florida coming together to affect change,” said Harris. “I encourage every business leader listening to get involved. If you believe, people like me deserve the same opportunities, join the Florida Abilities Partner Program.”

The program stems from a new state law, championed by Senate President Andy Gardiner who has a son with Down Syndrome.

“Not only do we want to recognize the good businesses that are already leaders, but we want to lead by example,” said Gardiner. “And, so, for the first time, in the history of the state of Florida, every agency, every Department will have to submit to the legislature a report on what they intend to do to hire individuals with unique abilities. That will be a game changer, in my opinion.”

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