Executives and business owners throughout the United States are dealing with an ongoing problem that will not be solved in the near future, an enormous scarcity of resources that has created a tight job market.

In addition to escalating payrolls and recruitment costs, companies are missing deadlines on critical business projects, resulting in significant profit losses due to the inability to recruit or retain the necessary talent. In a recent Fortune Magazine article, a study from McKinsey notes, the next 15 years will witness a 15% decline in the number of people between the ages of 35 and 44. This means existing labor shortages in specific markets will continue.

One industry that has experienced a significant labor shortage is information technology, where some companies in the United States currently have over 100 open positions that cannot be filled. Many companies in the United States have had open position in IT for over nine months on a consistent basis. According to a recent report by the Commerce Department, the growth rate for computer systems analysts, computer scientists, and computer engineers will have exceeded 100% for the decade ending 2006. With the Internet development and e-commerce explosion, the technical skills companies are seeking over the next five years will not be found easily. For this reason, many corporations in the United States have moved to offshore development work and focused on the recruitment of foreign workers. This recruitment of foreign workers is so aggressive that this year all of the visas allocated for foreign workers through the government, were issued by mid-year.

The Secretary of Commerce, Secretary William Daley, recently stated there exists a critical need for business, government and education to work together to deal with the current shortage of IT skills.

An obvious business solution is being overlooked by the business community, employing people with disabilities. The most recent data from the US Census Bureau states that there are over 10 million Americans of working age with disabilities who are unemployed in this country. It is the largest protected class group of people unemployed in America. This labor group, comprised of people who want to work, has been traditionally ignored by most businesses.

In a recent survey by the National Organization on Disability/Harris poll, over 81 percent of people with disabilities stated they wanted an opportunity to work. How refreshing to employ someone who values employment as gaining freedom in this country, and remains dedicated and loyal to the company that provided them real independence.

With such a logical business solution to employers, the question is why is it being overlooked? Businesses today must overcome attitudinal barriers that prevent people with disabilities from gaining entrance to the workforce. These barriers include pity, fear, ignorance, and thinking of a person with a disability as inferior. Pity is a cloaked form of racism and both lead to unemployment for people with ability.

Corporations and small businesses need to establish a corporate-wide recruitment program that aggressively includes the recruitment of qualified people with disabilities and employee disability awareness education. If a person has the ability to work, wants to work, and is qualified for the job, why not seize this opportunity to solve an enormous and costly business problem. People with disabilities add value to the work environment, because diversity always improves the culture and perspective of the staff.

This is not a charity issue; this is a business issue. Companies should not hire someone because they have a disability. Companies should hire a person with a disability who is qualified for the job. The individual who cherishes an opportunity to add value to the company will be a productive individual.

Statistics from the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities demonstrates that people with disabilities have a high attendance record and great longevity at a company. This is a business solution that relates directly to retention of skilled workers.

Retention is a very costly issue to employers today. Costs associated with training, sign-on bonuses, benefits, and recruitment costs are staggering. Over the next five years with many companies offering early retirement packages, recruitment and retention issues will be significant. Today, companies must realize they cannot afford to discount a prospective employee because he or she is entry-level in experience or because he or she has a disability. Recruiting and retaining valuable employees with ability will continue to be a key business issue across America. Where will the resources companies so desperately need come from today? Where will those resources come from as we enter the 21st Century?

Open your doors; there are over 10 million working age Americans with ability ready to help solve your business problems.
 

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