In April 2012, Governor Chris Christie made New Jersey an ‘Employment First’ state. It means that competitive employment is the first and preferred post-education activity for everyone, including people with disabilities.
During the announcement, the Governor said, “Everyone should have the opportunity to be productive, earn a living, and feel a sense of personal fulfillment from employment. …That’s why we’re working cooperatively with the private sector to ensure that people with disabilities are a seamless part of New Jersey’s workforce, with the independence and sense of community that comes from relationships developed inside and outside of the workplace.”
People with disabilities are a multi-skilled workforce resource for employers. An inclusive workplace promotes diversity, expands the tax base and creates an expanded pool of qualified candidates for available jobs. ‘Employment First’ is about creating an environment for individuals with disabilities that empowers them with choices for their future, reduces poverty, shrinks enrollment in entitlement programs, eases demand on state and community based social service agencies and provides workers with a sense of achievement.
As one of 14 states that recognize ‘Employment First’, New Jersey is setting new benchmarks – not just for people with disabilities - but for their families, school administrators, employers, government agencies, business leaders and community partners.