NRA Workshop Highlights the Gig Economy and Benefits for Individuals with Disabilities

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Julia O’Brien, Marketing Specialist
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Julia.obrien@kisbd.com

August 20, 2016, Exeter, NH – The annual National Rehabilitation Association (NRA) conference being held next month has invited Dr. Deborah Osgood, President and CEO of Knowledge Institute for Small Business Development (KISBD), to present on how today’s growing gig economy provides self-employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Osgood, a scholar and practitioner in the field of entrepreneurship, has been helping hundreds of individuals with disabilities to succeed in self-employment for the past decade.

“How we work and earn a living is changing rapidly,” said Dr. Osgood. “The reach of the Internet, social media and continued improvements in technology allow many of us to work from anywhere at most anytime. We can sell our products on eBay and Amazon, use social media to promote our community based services, and leverage technology to support profitable operations via cloud-based apps and virtual services. This environment removes many of the more traditional barriers to employment for individuals with disabilities.”

An Intuit study from 2011 predicted that 40 percent of Americans would be self-employed by 2020. By early 2015, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that 40.4 percent of Americans are already working on a non-permanent, project basis. This figure represents over 63 million Americans. Viewing the labor force from another perspective, a 2013 Pew Research study projected that 47 percent of American jobs would be replace by technology. The nature of work is also becoming more project-based with employers with 22 percent of employees in the 200 largest companies working on non-permanent project basis.

“Either way you approach the issue, self-employment is becoming the new normal,” said Osgood. “This means that many individuals you would have never considered working for themselves will now have to face creating their own job. It also means that individuals with disabilities are no longer limited to when, where and how they work to earn a living.”

Osgood’s approach to promoting self-employment is to develop learning programs that address both the individual and the science of entrepreneurship. Osgood refers to this as addressing the art of the “self” and the science of “employment.” For individuals with disabilities, this means having both quality of life and income.

The NRA conference is being held on September 13-15 at the Omni Richmond Hotel in downtown Richmond. For more information about the conference, visit www.nationalrehab.org.

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The Knowledge Institute for Small Business Development (KISBD) specializes in promoting self-employment and small business development through 1-on-1 coaching, economic and workforce development agency training programs, virtual learning communities and business-to-business consulting services. As a social entrepreneurial model launched in 1996, KISBD facilitates public/private collaboration to promote awareness, access and use of over 30,000 free and low-cost public small business assistance programs. This innovative approach is helping to connect 2.5 million individuals each month to providers of small business assistance programs, goods and services.