For many Texans, good health starts with a good job. Stable employment helps ensure people have the home, food, resources and stability they need to live healthy lives.
But too many young people cannot find work due to implicit bias around their abilities.
That’s why Amerigroup supports United We Work, which links students who have disabilities and are in special education classes with local businesses. The event helps job seekers visit workplaces and get an up-close look at potential career paths.
More than 100 students from eight Texas school districts took part in this year’s event. It featured dozens of businesses in the Lubbock area, starting at the Region 17 Education Services Center and taking students to different job sites for looks at jobs and careers that might catch their interest.
View coverage of the United We Work program from EverythingLubbock.com below
The event also saw Amerigroup and partner organizations lead sessions with prospective employers on the benefits of hiring workers with special needs and disabilities. The sessions included information about the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires employers to offer job accommodations.
“For decades, Amerigroup has been pioneering health solutions that work better for everyone. Initiatives like United We Work can help develop a pipeline of diverse service industry leaders who are empowered to have a profound impact on communities and overturn implicit bias toward people with varying abilities.”Greg Thompson, President and CEO of Amerigroup Texas
The students and prospective workers also learned how to best communicate with future employers — United We Work featured mock interviews that offered helpful feedback about how to best prepare for real-life job interviews.
United We Work comes at a time when the job prospects for people with disabilities are better than they’ve been in more than a decade.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data released in late 2021 showed that the employment-to-population ration for working-age people with disabilities was up to 33.2%, a 4 percentage point increase from the previous year and part of the best hiring trend for that group since 2008.
Dana Gatlin, Student HireAbility Navigator for Workforce Solutions South Plains (also known as the South Plains Workforce Development Board), said United We Work shows students career options they might not have ever considered — such as with Lubbock Auto Auction and Cardinal’s Sports Center, which were among the businesses that opened their doors to students for the day.
“They’re fighting an uphill battle anyway, but there are a lot of job opportunities that they might not realize that they can go out and do,” Gatlin told Everythinglubbock.com. “We’re going to rate them and see what areas they need to work on — and then, that way, they have a background of where to go from here.”