Eighty-five percent of working-age individuals with disabilities are either unemployed or underemployed. Of the 15% that are employed, only half are working in inclusive jobs in the community. Fortunately, new government regulations are focused on changing these grim statistics. A recently proposed rule would require federal agencies to achieve a workforce participation rate of 12% for people with disabilities. One proactive agency, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is already leading by example, implementing an initiative dedicated to individuals with disabilities working in competitive and inclusive positions. The Arc’s employment division, The Arc@Work, has been supporting the FCC with their hiring efforts.
After working seasonal and part-time jobs for years, Keith Coburn was ready for the stability and security that comes with full-time employment. So, he reached out to his local chapter of The Arc, The Arc of Prince George’s County in Maryland, where he was connected through The Arc@Work to an opportunity at the FCC. A year and a half on the job, Keith performs a variety of tasks that range from sorting mail to updating and maintaining the database of licensing sales and transfers. As a problem-solver and a “master of Excel”, Keith’s responsibilities have grown steadily at the FCC and he is in the process of receiving his second promotion.
The quality of Keith’s work and his strong work ethic have made, and continue to make, a huge impression on all those who have had the opportunity to work with him. When asked to describe Keith, his supervisors, Annette Smith and Lisa Scanlan, expressed nothing but high praise. “Dependable”, “great team member”, and “great work product” were only some of the ways they described Keith’s performance.
“When Keith is assigned work, he always completes his task on time,” commented Annette. Lisa summed it up by adding: “He always steps up to the plate. He is the ideal employee.” Keith attributes his success to his determination. His advice? “Stick with it. Be flexible and be persistent,” said Keith.
The Arc@Work is a social enterprise that supports employers to successfully locate, hire, and support employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To learn more, visit our website at thearc.org/thearcatwork or contact Katherine Murphy at Murphy@thearc.org.