CDD Job Fair
Mario Chavez, left, speaks with representatives from Verizon Wireless during a job fair, held Sept. 29 2015 at the UNM Center for Development and Disability.
Credit: Furhana Afrid

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has proclaimed October as Disability Employment Awareness Month throughout the state, affirming “New Mexico’s commitment to inclusive workplaces and community.”

October is also recognized nationally as Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The University of New Mexico Center for Development and Disability (CDD) kicked off the month this week with a reading of the proclamation, a preview of a “Support Inclusive Businesses” campaign and a job fair for people with disabilities.

At a news conference Tuesday at the center's offices in Albuquerque, speakers from the CDD, the state Department of Health and UNM Anderson School of Management addressed the employment hurdles facing people with disabilities, along with programs and resources designed to provide more employment opportunities.

“Many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are either unemployed or underemployed, and lack opportunities to earn a competitive wage,” said Pamela Stafford, an education and outreach manager for the CDD.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, a parent to a child with a disability, also attended Tuesday's event.

"Everyone has value and contributions to make in our community and we strongly support more employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, and that is why the UNM Center for Development and Disability's job fair is so important to New Mexicans," Balderas said.

More than 40 businesses and organizations took part in the job fair, including Verizon, Sprint, Walgreens, University of New Mexico Hospital, Central New Mexico Community College and New Mexico Gas Company.

In a study of New Mexico businesses, UNM’s Anderson School of Management found that a major hurdle to employing people with disabilities is a lack of awareness. 

However research indicates that hiring people with disabilities is good for business, boosting diversity, productivity and morale.

“Hiring for inclusion is good business,” said Robert DelCampo, PhD, a professor at UNM Anderson School of Management and executive director of the UNM Innovation Academy.

“It opens opportunities to a huge market, both as consumers and employees. Education is the key and we hope to make inroads with the community in understanding what a boon this can be.”

Partners for Employment – a CDD program funded by the New Mexico Department of Health and Department of Vocational Rehabilitation – educates employers on the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.

In a series of workshops in October, Partners for Employment is launching a public awareness campaign called “Support Inclusive Businesses” to highlight New Mexico companies that hire people with disabilities.

The job fair is a collaboration between the CDD and the UNM Anderson School of Management, The Ticket to Work Partners, and Advance Employment Solutions.

To obtain more information about the CDD and Partners for Employment visit www.cdd.unm.edu .