The Third Annual Accommodation for Success Disability Employment Event took place on August 10, 2017, at the Forest Park Campus of St. Louis Community College. The event was organized to make it easier for area businesses to build diverse workforce. This year, the event included the first Reverse Job Fair in St. Louis.
Unlike most traditional job fairs, this innovative recruitment event focused on showcasing talents and professional interests of 80+ job candidates with disabilities. Participants met with potential employers in their booth spaces, demonstrating experience and skills in a variety of industries, while human resource professionals roamed the room, meeting the candidates they were interested in hiring. More than 116 recruiters representing 99 area companies were present. With 236 total registrants, not including job candidates, this year’s event was the largest yet.
Accommodation for Success event is a collaborative effort between the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE), regional job centers, and more than 20 of the region’s disability employment organizations. Workshops and resources on disability inclusion, etiquette, recruitment, and workplace culture were offered to registered businesses, prior to the reverse job fair.
Earlier in the day, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson greeted the attendees and delivered a keynote address. She acknowledged regional efforts to improve services for disabled citizens, and encouraged the employers to take a hard look. State Representative Sarah Unsicker also attended the event.
A number of participating businesses were selected by each partnering region and presented with awards for Emerging Partner, Exceptional Supporter of Inclusive Practices, and Outstanding Inclusive Employer; awards were presented by Suzanne Waha of Schenker Inc., and Sandy Keyser, Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities.
The 2017 Accommodation for Success event wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of its Gold-level sponsor – SSM Health. In-kind contributions were provided by St. Louis Community College (space at no cost), MERS/Goodwill (continental breakfast), the Starkloff Disability Institute and St. Louis ARC (boot camp for job seekers), and the Human Resource Management Association of Greater St. Louis (professional credits for workshop attendees).
Special recognition goes to the Accommodation for Success planning committee whose dedicated and selfless work made this event such a huge success. Implementing the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), SLATE recently undertook measures to improve the delivery of services for disabled individuals. Furniture was repositioned to allow wheelchairs to pass freely and a specialty day (Thursday) was selected to specifically address employment and training needs of ADA and older worker customers.
“This annual event marked a pivotal moment for thousands of adults living with mental or physical disabilities in our City. The large percentage of people living in poverty is disabled; I believe their true economic independence should begin with giving them access to jobs,” said Dr. Alice Prince, SLATE’s newly appointed Executive Director.
For more information, please view an interview of two planning committee members aired on STL TV Live, on August 7, 2017:
St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment