Iowa Workforce Development is launching a new bureau to help employers connect with a valuable-but-underused pool of potential employees – Iowans with disabilities.

Disability Engagement Bureau Chief Michelle Krefft said the new bureau, part of IWD’s Business Engagement Division, will be focused on helping employers understand the capabilities of Iowans with disabilities, as well as the accommodations that a company will need to make to be successful in hiring them.

“If we can work with businesses to help them understand nontraditional ways of doing things, they can tap into that untapped talent,” Krefft said.

Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services, which in July became the Vocational Rehabilitation Services division of IWD, has a long and successful track record of helping Iowans with disabilities develop the skills necessary to succeed in employment. Until now, however, there have not been dedicated individuals focused on engage employers for the long term.

Kathy Anderson, Division Administrator for Business Engagement, said Krefft and the new bureau will be able to work one-on-one with employers and help them take the specific steps they need to succeed for the long term. 

“Our division was created to make it as easy as possible for companies to address their workforce challenges,” Anderson said. “We want to make it as easy as possible for employers to tap into this new population.”

Krefft said the goal will be working with employers to help them understand where in a particular workforce someone with disabilities might succeed – and what, if necessary, might need to be adjusted. 

The goal is to have successful outcomes every time an employer considers job candidate with a disability. Vocational Rehabilitation services estimates that roughly 495 Iowans with disabilities are deemed ready for employment every month.

“Employers want to hire workers who will stick with them for the long term,” Krefft said. “If I hire a person with a disability and my workplace isn’t inclusive, they’re not going to stay.”

For more information about how IWD can help employers with their workforce challenges, visit our One-Stop Shop page.