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Suffolk hosts job fair for people with disabilities

Joseph Messina, left, of Dix Hills, speaks with

Joseph Messina, left, of Dix Hills, speaks with Vincent Amato and Raneish Brown of Abilities Inc. during a job fair last year at the Suffolk County One Stop Employment Center in Hauppauge. Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Individuals with disabilities will have an opportunity to apply for jobs at a Friday  job fair hosted by the Suffolk County Department of Labor and the Office for People with Disabilities.

The hiring event, organized in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, is free for attendees.  It will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the One-Stop Employment Center, 725 Veterans Memorial Hwy. in Hauppauge. Advance registration is not required.  

“A disability should never be an obstacle for anyone looking to earn a living,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a statement. “We look to make it easy and accessible for those individuals to enter the labor force and work for a company that suits their skill sets.”

Employers in the health care, retail, manufacturing, customer service, administrative and information technology industries are scheduled to attend the event.

More than 20 organizations are scheduled to attend the event, including Nature’s  Bounty Co., Collins Aerospace, Core BTS, The Corporate Source, and American Regent.

While job opportunities for individuals with disabilities on Long Island have improved over the years, many advocates say inequities remain.

In 2017, the latest year for which such data are available, people with disabilities had an unemployment rate of 10% on Long Island, nearly three times the 3.5% rate for the general population, according to the state Labor Department. The unemployment rate was even higher — 16.3% — for individuals with cognitive disabilities.

Challenges to finding stable employment often include employer bias, limited availability of assistance programs, transportation issues and fear of losing vital federal benefits, advocates say. 

The One-Stop Employment Center has a variety of assistive technology for job seekers with disabilities, including services for the deaf, as well as automatic wide doors, ramps and accessible restrooms.

For more information call 631-853-6600.

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