Category Archives: News

NDEAM 2016: Presidential Proclamation

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary September 30, 2015


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Americans with disabilities are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as any other citizen — including the right to dignity and respect in the workplace. Too often in our Nation’s history, individuals with disabilities have been eager to work but could not find a job, facing red tape, discrimination, or employers who assumed that disabled meant unable and refused to hire them. This month, we recognize the significant progress our country has made for those living with disabilities, and we honor the lasting contributions and diverse skills they bring to our workforce.

As a country, we must acknowledge that despite the great strides we have made in the 26 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act — a groundbreaking civil rights law aimed at eliminating discrimination and assuring equality for people with disabilities — we still have far to go to raise awareness of discriminatory obstacles that individuals with disabilities encounter in employment. Today, the labor force participation rate for Americans with disabilities is less than one-third the rate of those without a disability, and the unemployment rate is more than twice as high for individuals with disabilities. To break down more of these barriers, we must expand access to the resources and training necessary for Americans with disabilities to succeed in the workplace.

My Administration is dedicated to upholding our Nation’s promise of equal opportunity for all and advancing employment for people with disabilities in every community. I am proud that the Federal Government is leading by example as a model employer, now employing more Americans with disabilities than at any time in the last 30 years. Last year, the White House hosted a Summit on Disability and Employment to share resources for employers to hire more individuals with disabilities and effective strategies for recruitment, retention, hiring, and promotion of these employees. Two years ago, through updates to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, we took action to increase the representation of workers with disabilities in the Federal contractor workforce. In 2014, I signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to help the Departments of Labor and Education build initiatives that advance employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities — and earlier this summer, we issued new regulations to provide greater and more inclusive career development and training opportunities for anyone facing barriers to employment.

This year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme focuses on the importance of inclusion, especially when it comes to business, opportunity, and innovation. When we diversify our workforce we create opportunities for growth and improvement — not just for those with disabilities, but for everyone. This month, let us continue striving to forge a future where workplaces are more inclusive and where employees are more accepted for who they are. And because we know that our country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, let us keep working to ensure no one is left behind or unable to pursue their dreams because of a disability.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2016 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I urge all Americans to embrace the talents and skills that individuals with disabilities bring to our workplaces and communities and to promote the right to equal employment opportunity for all people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.


Skills Inc. Featured in Manufacturing Engineering Magazine

Toolholder System Empowers Workers, Boosts Productivity

First published in the August 2016 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine


Dan Olson and South facility

Dan Olson, Plant Manager of Manufacturing, Skills Inc.

How do you boost productivity in a highly competitive industry segment while improving the quality of life for your workforce? That’s the story of Skills Inc. (Auburn, WA), a company that is so unique it has two bottom lines—one financial and one social.

Skills Inc. is exceptional within the manufacturing world in that it is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit company that is 100% self-funded through its four lines of business—aerospace manufacturing, aerospace finishing, technical services and business solutions. Despite the intense competition in its industry segment, the company successfully operates in an open market and receives no government subsidies.

Although nearly 60% of its 700 employees have a self-identified disability, Skills Inc. employs and serves a very diverse population of adults and youths across the organization. It provides essential industry, technical and workplace readiness training that is greatly needed but sorely lacking in today’s marketplace. The company has been in business since 1966 and operates three plants in Auburn and Seattle.

When Dan Olson joined Skills Inc. as plant manager of manufacturing in 2012, the company was using a hodge-podge of extended length tools held by milling chucks, collet chucks, and side-lock toolholders. The skilled operators were turning out a quality product, but it was slow, took a lot of effort and produced a lot of chatter and scrapped pieces. Dan knew the only way to get rid of the chatter and pick up some speed was to make a change in toolholders.

Read the full article

Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act



On July 26, 1990, our Nation marked a pivotal moment in history for Americans with disabilities. Fueled by a chorus of voices who refused to accept a second-class status and driven by a movement that recognized that our country is stronger and more vibrant when we draw on the talents of all our people, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) enshrined into law the notion that Americans living with disabilities deserve to participate in our society free from discrimination. Twenty-six years later, as we mark this anniversary, we recognize all this milestone law has made possible for the disability community.

The ADA sought to guarantee that the places we share — from schools and workplaces to stadiums and parks — truly belong to everyone. It reflects our Nation’s full commitment to the rights and independence of people with disabilities, and it has paved the way for a more inclusive and equal society. For the 6.5 million students and the approximately 50 million adults living with mental or physical disabilities, the ADA has swung open doors and empowered each of them to make of their lives what they will.

Building on this progress is a priority for my Administration. The Federal Government has taken the lead in creating meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities. In my first term, I issued an Executive Order that called on Federal agencies and contractors to hire more people with disabilities — and today, more Americans with disabilities are working in Federal service than at any time in the last three decades. My Administration has vigorously enforced the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Olmstead decision — which determined that, under the ADA, people with disabilities cannot be unnecessarily segregated — and worked to deliver on the promise that individuals with disabilities have access to integrated, community-based services. The Affordable Care Act affirmed that Americans with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance, and this year, we made it clear that health care providers must offer reasonable accommodations and ensure effective communication for individuals with disabilities in order to advance health equity and reduce health care disparities.

As we commemorate this progress, we know our work to expand opportunity and confront the stigma that persists surrounding disabilities is not yet finished: We have to address the injustices that linger and remove the barriers that remain. Too many people with disabilities are still unemployed and lack access to skills training or are not paid fairly for their work. We must continue increasing graduation rates for students with disabilities to give them every chance to receive the education and training they need to pursue their dreams. We must make the information and communication technologies we rely on accessible for all people, and ensure their needs are considered and incorporated as we advance the tools of modern life. And we must keep fighting for more consistent and effective enforcement of the ADA in order to prevent discrimination in public services and accommodations.

At a time when so many doubted that people with disabilities could contribute to our economy or support their families, the ADA assumed they could, and guided the way forward. Today, as we reflect on the courage and commitment of all who made this achievement possible, let us renew our obligation to extend the promise of the American dream to all our people, and let us recommit to building a world free of unnecessary barriers and full of deeper understanding of those living with disabilities.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 26, 2016, the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I encourage Americans across our Nation to celebrate the 26th anniversary of this civil rights law and the many contributions of individuals with disabilities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.


AJAC Graduation

On June 24, 2016 at The Museum of Flight, AJAC (Aerospace Joint Aerospace Committee) celebrated a record graduating class of 40 apprentices, from 28 different companies throughout Washington State. Graduates were awarded a nationally recognized journey-level certificate for completing a four-year machining (Aircraft-Oriented) or two-year Precision Metal Fabrication program. Skills Inc. is proud to have three employees graduate in this year’s class: Gerardo Garcia, Mike Perley and Joe Tysdal. Congratulations on a job well done and a bright future ahead!

AJAC 2016 graduating class