February 29th, 2012

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People With Disabilities Key to President’s Plan for Insourcing

Obama in AZ

President Barack Obama visited this Arizona site where a new Intel microchip plant was being constructed back in January. The president has been touring the country to generate support for his plans to "insource" American manufacturing jobs, which could benefit people with disabilities looking for work.

Political rhetoric heated up last week following the release of President Obama’s proposed corporate tax reform plan. Could one provision, designed to encourage U.S. manufacturers to bring outsourced jobs back to American shores, help spur employment opportunities for people with disabilities?

CNN White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin provided a succinct rundown of the whole plan upon its release. When she gets to the proposal’s new minimum tax on foreign earnings, she harkens back to the part of Obama’s State of the Union address which called for tax breaks to be given to U.S. companies that bring jobs back from overseas. Subsequently, the term “insourcing” has been coined to describe this idea during media reports of the President’s visits to American manufacturing facilities to garner support for the plan.

Our own coverage since the State of the Union has looked at the impact of insourcing for people with disabilities. Many of the same assembly, packaging, and fulfillment tasks being done in other countries can be outsourced to American workers, providing similar improvements in efficiency and productivity. The latest statistics from the U.S Department of Labor shows the unemployment rate of people with disabilities at 12.9% even as the rate for the general population has dipped as low as 8.3%. Clearly, there is a supply of labor available to meet the demands of production.

Perhaps the main challenge is finding ways to put the two together in the same place. Reporter JaNae Francis of the Standard Examiner recently wrote about one group’s efforts to organize open houses that would introduce business leaders in the city of Ogden, Utah, to 250 people with disabilities who are trained and available to perform a multitude of manufacturing services.

Or perhaps there needs to be a brighter spotlight on successful contract manufacturing stories in the United States, like this report in yesterday’s Halifax Courier about a £500,000 agreement between a British factory employing people with disabilities and one of the country’s leading suppliers of paper mats, coasters, and napkins. Officials from the organization told reporter Michael Peel the factory had “increased its sales and training opportunities,” after being on the brink of closing its doors two years ago. Now this new agreement will provide an even greater benefit for people with disabilities. Peel writes:

It is expected to create new jobs and work experience opportunities, and provide a wider range of experience and skills for those already working there, as well as contributing towards the cost of running the factory.

Know of a similar success story about insourcing to people with disabilities? Share in the comments section below.

Image by Intel Photos (Nick Knupffer), used under its Creative Commons license.

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