The Disability Support Services (DSS) program at NOCE held an Inverse Job Fair on May 24, 2022. During this event, the students from the Job Skills: Work Attitude & Employer Expectations class arrived with their employment portfolios and were then interviewed by “industry experts.”
The DSS staff served as the “industry experts,” representing six industries: food services, retail/customer service, early childhood education, office/clerical, warehouse/manufacturing, and healthcare. Using their portfolios and the knowledge gained from class throughout the semester, the students were given the opportunity to highlight their knowledge in a low-stake setting.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The jobless rate of those with a disability was about twice as high as the rate for those without a disability,” at 10.1% in 2021. Lorri Guy, DSS Program Coordinator, echos this, stating, “Students with disabilities are underrepresented in the workplace and overexpressed in statistics of unemployment, underemployment, and poverty. Especially in high turnover industries, interviewees often only get one shot at securing a position; for students with disabilities, or even students who are just nervous, this is a barrier to employment.”
This Inverse Job Fair will not be the last of its kind – Guy states, “This event was a trial run for what we hope to be a larger event next year. We would like to invite local employers and invite all DSS job seekers to address misconceptions of disability in the workplace, provide real interview prep to our students, and hopefully secure competitive, integrated employment opportunities.”