MSU researchers launch new website to help those with disabilities, criminal records get employment

July 29, 2021 - Liz Schondelmayer

The Michigan Employment Clinic (Mi-EC) has launched a new website to help people with disabilities or criminal records overcome barriers to obtaining and retaining employment. The website and its resources are free to use and provide support for both job seekers and employers in the Lansing area.

Mi-EC is an independent organization founded in the fall of 2020 by Michigan State University researchers Stacy Hickox, an Associate Professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations, and Dr. Connie Sung from the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education. "We started Mi-EC last year because we saw a real need to support people who want jobs but face barriers to getting hired because of their disability or criminal record," Hickox said. 

The organization is dedicated to helping people with disabilities or criminal records overcome barriers to employment and improve their quality of life through participation in a diverse workforce. 

"Job-seekers with a disability or a criminal record face stigma from potential employers who may assume that this applicant will not be a good employee, in part because they are unable to communicate the value they would bring to that employer," explained Hickox. "Mi-EC provides resources to employers to help them understand the benefits of hiring applicants with a disability or a criminal record."

"Since the pandemic, many people’s employment has been negatively impacted. The impact on marginalized groups, such as those who have a disability and/or a criminal record, has been even bigger," said Dr. Sung. "Research shows that this group of people tend to be laid off by employers more so than those without a disability/criminal record. So, this inspired us to start the Mi-EC to help this underserved population."

The website addresses these challenges by helping job seekers identify and prepare for inclusive, equitable job opportunities across Michigan. Resources offered include helping individuals to prepare their resumes, find promising job leads, practice interviewing - and providing support once the person has gotten a job so that they continue to succeed in their newfound position.

Additionally, employers can use the site to learn more about the benefits and legal requirements for diverse and inclusive hiring, and can indicate their dedication to such practices by signing the Mi-EC's Employer Pledge.

Mi-EC's team also includes student interns from both Cornell University and Michigan State University who play a key role in executing Mi-EC's vision. "I really enjoy meeting with clients and ultimately helping them with their interview preparations," said intern Katie Pezzetti, an MSU junior majoring in Human Capital and Society. "It is extremely rewarding to see my clients thrive and get excited about their future career opportunities."

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