The evidence of job separation and job search experiences of disabled workers presented in Chapter 5 is ambiguous. On the one hand, disabled workers search three weeks longer, on average, than similar nondisabled individuals before finding a job. On the other hand, job separations are less likely to be for involuntary reasons among disabled than among nondisabled workers, implying that disabled workers are not likely the ''marginal'' employees that some have speculated they are. While longer search spells are consistent with discriminatory hiring practices on the part of employers, the finding that most of the observed longer search spell is explained by individual characteristics suggests that endowments of disabled and nondisabled workers are being valued equally, but that employers go to greater lengths to discern the fit of a disabled worker's traits with a particular job. This care in hiring on the part of the employer would also lead to the lower probability that a separation is involuntary. In addition, the firm may have made some expenditures in accommodating the worker's disability and thus will be reluctant to lose that investment by laying off or firing the worker.
The lower probability that a separation is involuntary means that disabled workers experience a higher likelihood that a separation is voluntary. While this may be interpreted as disabled workers having a fair amount of mobility in the labor market, it may also mean that they have more difficulty than nondisabled individuals in finding a good job match. What is called for is a policy that assists employers in discerning the qualifications and fit of a disabled worker more quickly and that helps disabled workers in determining the appropriateness of a particular job. Measures for improving the efficacy and speed of job matches would include a clearing house at which employers could post job openings and workers could advertise skills (with appropriate accommodations); third-party certification of worker skills; and assistance with information (such as JAN) and with cost (such as tax credits) for accommodating a particular disability for the job to be filled.
The National Easter Seal Society provides many services that would facilitate matching of workers with employers. Skills evaluation and screening, employment skills training, and job placement services are among the programs offered through Easter Seals. JAN could also be expanded to provide job placement services, which it currently does not do.10 The U.S. Office of Disability Employment Policy, however, has some initiatives that do assist in employment on a limited basis.11 The Employer Assistance Referral Network (EARN) is designed to help employers in locating and recruiting qualified individuals with disabilities. The Workforce Recruitment Program is involved with securing summer employment and internships for students with disabilities, and Project EMPLOY is designed to expand and enhance job opportunities for people with cognitive disabilities by, primarily, providing funding to other organizations to provide employment services.
One thing that might be difficult for an employer to assess is the productivity of a disabled worker with accommodating equipment or services in place. If the government, or some private entity, could certify a particular skill (such as typing or editing) when a disabled individual has access to facilitating equipment, the employer would not be forced to bear the risk of hiring the worker and installing the necessary equipment without knowing what the outcome will be. There could be testing centers set up regionally, or mobile testing centers, that would contain the most common equipment needed for the worker to do the job in question.
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