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Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary-designee

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784

Oct. 21, 2022
CONTACT: DWD Communications

Workers with Disabilities Expand, Diversify Wisconsin's Workforce

During Disability Employment Awareness Month, Gov. Tony Evers salutes exemplary employers for their commitment to help workers with disabilities achieve their goals

By Amy Pechacek
DWD Secretary-designee

Gov. Tony Evers believes everyone in Wisconsin deserves the opportunity to develop the job skills they need to achieve their employment goals. That includes helping individuals overcome employment barriers.

This is one reason why the governor has proclaimed October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Wisconsin. The month provides a great opportunity to recognize how Wisconsinites with disabilities make the state's workforce more diverse and inclusive. It also provides the chance to show how employers and communities across the state benefit when workers with disabilities find new employment and economic opportunities.

At the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) helps thousands of individuals with disabilities achieve their employment goals every year and, in doing so, helps employers across Wisconsin hire highly skilled, highly motivated talent. In program year 2021 alone, more than 2,000 employers hired 3,500 consumers through the work of DVR.

At any given time, DVR is helping approximately 15,000 job seekers overcome disabilities in pursuit of their individual employment goals. Given Wisconsin's strong job creation, high labor force participation rate and a worker supply challenge driven by demographic trends that have been building for decades, the work of DWD's talented DVR counselors and other staff is more critical than ever.

Meanwhile, there are some 172,000 Wisconsinites with disabilities who are not attached to the labor market, even though many want to work. Workers with disabilities have immense talents and skills that would benefit any employer. What better time to recognize these workers and the employers that hire them than Disability Employment Awareness Month?

Throughout October, DWD has been honoring Wisconsin businesses with Governor Evers' Exemplary Employer Awards, in recognition of the employers' commitment to hire, train and retain individuals with disabilities. These employers are finding out that workers with disabilities are some of the most loyal, motivated, and skilled workers a business can have.

Through the exemplary employer awards, the Governor is highlighting the achievements of workers with disabilities, and bringing attention to the employers of all sizes that have tapped this pool of talent. These businesses are setting an example for other employers that are seeking solutions for their talent needs.

Through Gov. Evers' leadership and unprecedented, $150 million investment in the Workforce Solutions Initiative, employers, job seekers, educational institutions and others are coming together to overcome employment barriers, expand access to in-demand skills training and connect hidden talent pools with jobs.

These investments build on DWD's long-established programs for people with disabilities, including Project SEARCH, a business-led internship program that has provided workforce training to nearly 1,500 individuals with disabilities in the state since the program began here during the 2008-2009 school year.

DWD also is working to enroll hundreds of new, past, and current DVR consumers in career pathways, apprenticeships, and other programs thanks to a five-year, $14-million competitive grant DWD received to equip workers with disabilities with new industry-recognized credentials that are in the high-demand sectors of health care, manufacturing, digital technology, and construction.

These are the kinds of initiatives that will keep our state's talent pipeline robust and strengthen the economic stability of families and communities across Wisconsin. During Disability Employment Awareness Month, we salute employers that are helping workers with disabilities achieve their employment goals and thrive.

We also invite job seekers and businesses to learn more about the programs and services our DVR offers. Visit us online, by email at or by phone toll free at 800-442-3477.

Call DVR today and let us help you meet your workforce or employment support needs!


Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development efficiently delivers effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin's diverse workforce needs now and for the future. The department advocates for and invests in the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers and job seekers through six divisions – Employment and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation, Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights, Worker's Compensation and Administrative Services. To keep up with DWD announcements and information, sign up for news releases and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.