Hundreds of job seekers with disabilities turned out for the seventh annual OHSU Night for Networking event, held Oct. 26, at OHSU’s South Waterfront Campus.
The event aimed to connect potential employees with area employers committed to workforce diversity. More than 50 employers from multiple industries were represented, offering potential employment and internship opportunities.
Trevor Garcia, 27, recently moved to the area from Colorado. Garcia, who is blind, visited a variety of employers throughout the evening.
"I've never been to an event like this," said Garcia. "It's great for people like me with a disability to get the opportunity at the very least, to network, and at the most, get the opportunity to get a job.”
Finding employment can often be particularly challenging for people with disabilities.
A Bureau of Labor Statistics summary states only 17.5 percent of individuals with a disability were employed in 2015, while 65 percent of those without disabilities held jobs.
According to Ian Jaquiss, a disability trainer with OHSU’s Affirmative Action & Equal Opportunity department, employment is and has been one of the biggest challenge for people with disabilities (PWDs).
"The unemployment rate for PWDs has been about twice the rate for the general population since the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990,” said Jaquiss.
This year’s event provided new opportunities for at least a few participants. A few days after the event, Jaquiss commented: “We have heard from three companies that they have interviewed, and in one case hired, candidates they met at the event this year.”