Earlier this month, NFAR partnered with the State Senate’s South Counties Autism Regional Taskforce (SCART) to honor nine San Diego employers for their efforts in helping build a more inclusive workforce and offering teens and adults with autism the opportunity to earn a living.
The reception celebrated businesses that hire employees with autism, giving them a chance at success beyond the classroom and inspiring other organizations to look beyond the unfamiliar to identify the talent inherent in every job applicant.
“While the national unemployment rate is considered high at 9.5%, adults with autism have an astounding 90% unemployment rate,” says Chantal Sicie-Kira, SCART Co-Chair. “Our goal is to inspire other organizations to see the benefits of employing those who are differently-abled.”
Presenting new findings of a current San Diego State University study on opportunities for students with autism post high school, Dr. Laura Hall along with Autism Specialist Kim Brown, detailed the critical need for adult transition programming. “By 2018, more than 19,000 Californians with autism will reach adulthood,” Dr. Hall said. “A key partner in these efforts are employers who can see the potential in young adults with ASD and realize the win-win of hiring individuals on the spectrum.”
"A job is the best social program,” noted SCART member and California Legislative Advocates principal Jim Lantry who served as award presenter at the reception. “Yet, when a company decides to hire employees with autism and other developmental disabilities, they need to look at it not as a social program but as a sound business decision. We are honoring employers that already know the benefits of making that decision – with loyal, competent employees that have a lower than average turnover rate, lower absenteeism and an enthusiastic attitude.”
The recipients of the first-ever Excellence in Employment awards, issued by the California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders are: County of San Diego Public Defender’s Office, Offices of Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher, Omni Hotel San Diego, The Bishop’s School, Eureka Review, West Inn and Suites, E-World Recyclers, VitalityWeb.com, and Partnerships With Industry (PWI).
On hand to congratulate the inaugural honorees were County Assessor David Butler and representatives from the offices of Senator Dennis Hollingsworth, Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny, Congressman Duncan Hunter, Congresswoman Susan A. Davis, and Assemblymembers Joel Anderson and Nathan Fletcher. The State Senate Select Committee will also award Excellence in Employment honors to other employers across the state.