Kathryn Manly, a Clayton State University senior, recently completed the Workforce Recruitment Program with the 78th Medical Group at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. To learn more about the program, visit www.wrp.gov. (U.S. Air Force photo by Shane Warren)
Kathryn Manly, a Clayton State University senior, recently completed the Workforce Recruitment Program with the 78th Medical Group at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. To learn more about the program, visit www.wrp.gov. (U.S. Air Force photo by Shane Warren)

The Program works

by Paul Reynolds

People with disabilities want the same opportunities as everyone else, and Federal employers want to fill job vacancies with quality workers. The Workforce Recruitment Program, also referred to simply as the Program, brings these two goals together.

Managed by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Diversity Management Operations Center, Defense Human Resources Activity and the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, the Program is a recruitment and referral program that connects recent college graduates with disabilities to federal employers.

At the Defense Health Agency, Mr. Timothy Fahey is an equal employment opportunity specialist and the Program’s coordinator. He has first-hand knowledge of how the Program meets the needs of both groups.

A Program That Works

Fahey started his internship in DHA’s Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management Division in 2012.  The Program helped him get his first job opportunity out of college.  “All I knew was it was going to be a fourteen-week internship. I wasn’t under the assumption that it would become a career,” said Fahey.

“I found out about [the Program] through my college,” he said. Federal recruiters contacted him and he was interviewed over the phone and registered in the database. “They asked me, ‘What do you want to do?’ I knew I wanted to guide people in solving problems,” said Fahey.

DHA’s Deputy Director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management Division called him after the interview to offer him an internship. The program starts with a 14-week internship. 

“I was offered an internship over the phone, Fahey said. “Within a year, I was offered a temporary position.” A year later he was put on a two-year probationary work period.  At the end of that period, he was offered a permanent position. 

“My supervisor advocated for my success,” said Fahey. The Program makes it possible to correct misperceptions some might have about working with someone with a disability, he added. “It’s a program that works.” 

Getting More People Employed

As the Program’s coordinator for DHA, Fahey says another advantage is the fiscal benefit to the agency employing Program interns. There’s no cost to their office during the internship because the Program pays intern’s salaries.

The Program’s federal recruiters contact accredited colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning to find eligible students for the Program. The institutions connect students with recruiters. Then recruiters interview each student by phone to learn about their knowledge, skills and abilities. Program staff use this information to create a database of candidates eligible for the internship.  Employers then access the database to see which candidates have the skill sets that would be a good match. 

Many federal employers offer Program interns a summer, temporary or permanent position. The program is another pipeline for agencies to hire qualified candidates, Fahey added.

The Program helps employers “tap into a source of individuals who are educated,” said Ms. Yolanda Maldonado, DHA’s Chief of Military Equal Opportunity, who works closely with Fahey. “The Program allows them to see what people with disabilities bring to the table,” she said. “People with disabilities come with a different perspective that we may not know about.  If we listen, we see what they bring.”

A Program That Breaks Barriers

The Program supports people with disabilities by giving them equal access to the same opportunities that individuals without disabilities have. 

When employers see that the knowledge, skills and abilities of a disabled person are equal to their colleagues, they see that “disability doesn’t discriminate against race, gender, or creed,” said Maldonado. “The Program helps remove barriers for people with disabilities. It gives individuals with disabilities a chance like everybody else.” 

Two Missions Unite

The Workforce Recruitment Program is an established system that connects people with disabilities to federal employers looking for quality people who can help them complete their missions.

Fahey said the Program changes the lives of people with disabilities in a positive way. “Employers who participate in the Program can help an underserved population,” he added.

For more information visit the Workforce Recruitment Program website.

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