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Youngkin offers people with disabilities new path to state employment

Gov. Glenn Youngkin is opening a new door for people with disabilities to seek jobs in state government under an alternative hiring process the General Assembly ordered last year.

Youngkin said Tuesday that the Department of Human Resource Management and the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services developed the new hiring process as way to employ more people with disabilities in the state work force.

“My administration fully supports expanded economic and job opportunities for individuals with disabilities,” the governor said. “This is a significant step in the Commonwealth’s commitment to the overall goal of increasing employment opportunities for all Virginians.”

The new process builds on two existing laws. The first, adopted in 2017, directs the state to “promote and increase the employment of individuals with disabilities directly employed at all levels and occupations by state agencies, institutions, boards and authorities of the Commonwealth.”

The second was based on legislation proposed last year by Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, and adopted by the General Assembly to develop an alternative application process for people with disabilities that is “non-competitive in nature.”

Youngkin’s proposal also would provide “a non-competitive path to state employment” for people who receive a “certificate of disability“ from the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, according to a state fact sheet. Applicants would submit the certificate with their job application without stating the nature of the disability.

The process wouldn’t be entirely non-competitive but would give eligible applicants preference in processing their applications, said Betsy Civilette, spokesperson for the department, also known as DARS.

“This policy opens doors for job applicants with disabilities to seek state employment, paving the way for new career paths,” said Kathy Hayfield, commissioner at DARS, which she said will work with the state personnel agency to help “those who are under-represented in the state workforce.”

Secretary of Administration Lyn McDermid, who oversees the human resource agency, called the new hiring process “only the beginning of our strategy to demonstrate our commitment to individuals with differing abilities to improve the state workforce.”

The new process would be used by executive branch agencies and encouraged at other state agencies “to fill wage and classified vacancies,” according to a state fact sheet. It does not limit use of the process to specific jobs.

The process does not guarantee the person a job or even an interview, but would require the agencies to screen applicants to identify those who meet minimum qualifications for the jobs.

The process would not “supersede the placement rights of employees in layoff status or preferential consideration for veterans,” according to the fact sheet.

The alternative hiring process will not be available to current state employees.

Secretary of Health and Human Resources John Littel said a $9.2 million federal grant to the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services will help the state implement the alternative hiring process.

He said the grant also enables the state to provide skills training for at least 750 Virginians with disabilities and support apprenticeships “in high-wage, high-demand fields, including [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] and state government.”

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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