Amid the ongoing worker shortage, the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce held its 2022 Talent Forum on Thursday, encouraging employers to hire people in underrepresented populations.
Speakers focused on hiring people with disabilities, refugees from foreign countries, and people who are re-entering society from prison.
“Think outside the box,” said Amanda Lewis from Future Pathways. She said, many times, people with disabilities have strong work ethic. “They’re going to be the ones that show up on time. They’re going to be the ones that are there every day,” said Lewis.
Ashley Harrell battles Cerebral Palsy, along with a learning disorder, but she is now employed at Kohl’s in Tallahassee. “It’s very satisfying that I can find a job I really enjoy,” said Harrell. “It’s taught me I can do anything anybody else can do, just at a slower pace.”
Harrell was one of many examples shared at the forum. “As a community, when you hire someone with a disability, you’re not only giving them a job, but you’re giving them a social network and you’re giving them purpose,” said Lewis.
The Florida Department of Corrections and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Tallahassee presented as well.
The IRC reported there are 90 refugee families living in Tallahassee right now, but they expect that number to increase through the end of 2022. Michelle Ubben said though there may be language barriers, many refugees are able to learn skill-based work.
Employers were also given examples of how quickly someone can get involved with the justice system, encouraging employers not to judge someone strictly on their record. She reported that male inmates who already have a job established when they leave prison are 14 percent less likely to return.