July | August 2017


 

 

 

 

 

 

Governor Matt Bevin Creates Kentucky Work Matters Task Force

The Kentucky Work Matters Task Force is part of CSG’s continued disability employment policy
initiative and an outgrowth of the
National Task Force on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities.

By Elizabeth Whitehouse, CSG director of education and workforce development
Gov. Matt Bevin recently announced the creation of the Kentucky Work Matters Task Force at a press conference with federal and state officials in the Kentucky State Capitol Rotunda.
In the U.S., only 19.8 percent of people with disabilities are in the workforce, compared to 68.7 percent of people without disabilities. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 8.7 percent, compared to a rate of 4.6 percent for people without disabilities. Additionally, individuals with disabilities age 21-64 are twice as likely to fall below the federal poverty line.
Kentucky’s overall labor force participation rate is 8 percent less than the national average. This is due to a number of factors, but one certainly is labor force participation of people with disabilities. Almost 16 percent of Kentuckians have a disability and of that only 18 percent have obtained full-time employment, in comparison to 30.5 percent nationally.
The new 23-member task force will bring together every area of Kentucky’s state government that has a hand in workforce development along with representatives from the private sector. Its mission is to address barriers to employment and promote workforce inclusion among people with disabilities, foster children, disabled veterans, individuals with substance abuse issues and individuals with criminal records.
“There is dignity that comes from work, and there is a sense of satisfaction and respect—for oneself and for others—that comes from being an engaged part of the community,” Bevin said. “And there’s nothing more integral than the dignity associated with being part of the fabric of that community through work.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Sheehy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy commended Kentucky, which is the first state in the nation to initiate such a task force.
“We realize that the real change and the real work does not happen at the federal level,” Sheehy said. “We need to look at what federal policies do work, but also what is happening in states that works—and then support that.”
The Kentucky Work Matters Task Force will work closely with the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s State Exchange on Employment & Disability, or SEED. SEED is a collaborative effort with state intermediary organizations, including The Council of State Governments and National Conference of State Legislatures, to help state leaders effectively address policy barriers that may hinder the employment of people with disabilities.
David Adkins, CSG executive director/CEO, spoke on how the technical assistance in Kentucky was a part of a larger focus on state level policy.
“The last two years have seen CSG engaged in a deep analysis of impediments to workforce development and participation in growing state economies. Issues such as poverty and hunger, education, and criminal justice have been the cornerstones of CSG’s efforts,” Adkins said. “We are proud to say that we are not only assisting states in the development of state-driven solutions, but that we are doing so in a way that is directed by you—the leaders of state government.”
The Kentucky Work Matters Task Force will develop recommendations and provide a report by the end of the year.
Watch the full press conference at the Capitol Rotunda here.