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Gov. Mike Parson announced Monday that Missouri will set annual goals to increase the percentage of individuals with disabilities in the state workforce.

Parson signed an executive order Monday that classified the state as part of the Model Employer initiative — "an emerging trend supported by the federal Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy to help more people with disabilities obtain competitive, integrated employment," according to a news release from Parson's office.

"Being a Model Employer is critical to developing and maintaining a talented state workforce that reflects the rich diversity of Missourians," Parson said in the news release, which stated 79.8 percent of working-age people without a disability in Missouri are employed, compared to only 37.1 percent of working-age people with a disability who are employed.

Parson seeks through his order to improve recruitment, hiring and retention strategies.

In addition to setting annual goals on state workforce participation by people with disabilities and evaluating progress each year, the state's Office of Administration "will also designate a State Disability Employment Coordinator or Coordinators to advise and support state agencies with the initiative," according to the news release.

A Model Employer Talent Showcase will be part of the launch of the initiative. The showcase will take place Oct. 10 at the Capitol.

The event is "a reverse career fair that provides individuals with physical, mental health, or cognitive disabilities to showcase their talents and achievements through display or presentation. State agencies and private employers will have the opportunity to circulate the booths, introduce themselves, and learn about the individuals' skills and abilities that may meet their hiring needs," according to the news release.

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