ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced a $75,000 grant for the Howard County Autism Society to support its Hiring Program which creates career opportunities for skilled, job-seeking adults with autism, and increases businesses’ access to talented employees.
We want to ensure that Howard County continues to be the best place to live, work, play and grow for people of all ages and abilities. Our Howard County Autism Society has provided essential support and resources to so many families and individuals in our community, and this program is another giant leap towards a more inclusive workplace so that more of our children, friends, and neighbors can thrive. We are sending a message to all businesses that we can support individuals living with autism to have meaningful career opportunity and contribute to our community.
The Autism Society Hiring Program aims to address the needs of adults with autism who have high-level, marketable skills and would benefit from building practical and social skills, confidence-building exercises, and connections for a more competitive advantage. The program will also provide training to employers on how to effectively work and communicate with individuals with autism. Howard County’s Office of Workforce Development, which is funding the program, will also provide job readiness workshops and occupational skills training as needed.
“This unique workforce development initiative will allow individuals with autism in our community to learn how to create a resume, develop interview skills, and provide job placement opportunities,” said Office of Workforce Development Director Francine Trout. “The program strives to match the skillsets of the participants with the employment opportunities available.”
“The Autism Hiring Program fills an unmet need by providing targeted training and support for highly skilled Autistic individuals not otherwise eligible for services in our state,” said Autism Society Executive Director Melissa Rosenberg. “At the same time, it meets the increased demand from businesses as they seek to expand their hiring efforts and build a more neurodiverse workforce. The Howard County Autism Society is grateful to our county government, County Executive Ball and Fran Trout from Howard County’s Workforce Development Center for believing in this program and ensuring that it will continue serve a growing pipeline of candidates and employers.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected many who have historically faced significant barriers to employment, including people with disabilities who have been more likely to experience lower rates of employment or under-employment and earn significantly lower wages compared to their peers without disabilities. The pandemic exacerbated and compounded these issues, as layoffs disproportionately impacted people with disabilities and the number of employed working-age people with disabilities fell.