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Eye Opener: Study urges more help to hire disabled workers

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Monday! Almost half of the federal government's human resources officials say they have not received adequate training on how to manage and retain employees with severe disabilities, according to the results of a survey by the Telework Exchange and the Federal Managers Association set for release Monday. Many of those officials are also unfamiliar with mandates designed to promote the hiring of disabled applicants and hiring rules that allow for the noncompetitive hiring of disabled people.

Though 71 percent of the respondents said their agencies are committed to hiring disabled workers, 40 percent said they have not received adequate training to effectively manage disabled employees, according to the survey.

The Telework Exchange, continuing its push for advancing teleworking, and FMA partnered on the study in advance of a conference set for next week that will press the Obama administration on the teleworking option for federal workers. The White House said Kareem Dale, President Obama's special assistant on disability policy, will address the survey's findings at next week's conference.

The survey also noted that 45 percent of federal hiring managers surveyed said they have not received adequate training on retaining disabled employees.

Though it's always noteworthy to review surveys of federal officials considering the difficulty of gauging their reaction on issues, this voluntary online survey heard from just 513 federal hiring officers. And it was taken between Jan. 25 and Feb. 5, roughly a month before the Office of Personnel Management held a training session for more than 600 federal hiring managers about hiring and retaining disabled workers.

During the session OPM unveiled a new online training tool for hiring officials that instructs them on how to use Schedule A, a noncompetitive hiring waiver that permits agencies to hire severely disabled individuals, an OPM spokesman said. The agency is developing a similar training tool for disabled applicants wishing to be hired under the waiver.

OPM and the Labor Department's Office of Disability Policy also will hold a hiring fair on April 26 at the Washington Convention Center. More than 70 agencies with job openings have been invited to search a database with more than 4,000 resumes of disabled applicants. Agencies are encouraged to schedule interviews with disabled applicants at the April event, OPM said.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | March 29, 2010; 6:10 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Is sleeep apnea considered a disability? if you can't sleep then your performance is bound to suffer. It would seem to qualify as much as some of the other stuff that's been tried.

Posted by: ronjaboy | March 29, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Most federal workers are disabled, if you include mental disabilities.

Posted by: corrections | March 29, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Schedule A appnts of disabled personnel is the fast and easiest hiring authority in the Federal Govt. Ironically, it is the HROs, who guard the gateway to federal employment that are the number ONE BARRIER to hiring the disabled. Strange isn't it? The article cites 40% of HRO staff don't have adequate training. In reality, its more like 99% lack "adequate" training on hiring the disabled. I know, I specialize in training federal, voc-rehab, DVAAPs and DVOPs on Schedule A hiring. So where and how is all the TRAINING dollars being spent by HROs if not to improve upon their under performing their primary function of advising, counseling and guiding supervisors and mgrs on the various/streamlined hiring authorities including hiring the disabled? Yet HR pds clearly give credit and grade to HR staff specialists for having this knowledges which is fraud. HROs spend most of their training funds to support training contractors who are friends of HR employees or the Training Ofcr in HR. At Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, a 4-day course on how to become an HR consultant cost taxpayers $19,000 and was taught by a contractor who had no federal HR experience! Overall, I'd say 99% of all supervisors/mgrs do NOT KNOW how easy and fast it is to hire the disabled. Also, the online program on the U.S. Dept of Labor's website openly discriminates against disabled students and has for yrs now. As a FedHRXpert, I know what the problem is on this site but am more surprised that no one else in HR, the govt or disabled student groups have had this corrected.

Posted by: NotAJoke | March 29, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

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