What is Employment First?

Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 92: Employment First for North Carolinians with Disabilities, on March 28, 2019. Employment First is a national movement that recognizes that all citizens, including individuals with significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in integrated employment and community life.

In the context of state government employment, Employment First means real jobs, real wages.

The Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) is charged with ensuring that people with disabilities have equal opportunity to succeed in the state government workplace and that hiring managers are aware of and complying with Employment First as a process for recruiting and retaining qualified individuals for state employment.

More than 1.3 million North Carolinians, approximately 13 percent of the state’s population, have a disability. Of these individuals, more than 720,000 are of working age, but only 35 percent are employed, compared to 76 percent of North Carolinians without disabilities.

State Human Resources Director Barbara Gibson spoke about Employment First and North Carolina's efforts to make state government workplaces more welcoming and inclusive at the July 23, 2020 ADA 30th Anniversary Conference presented virtually by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

For additional information about Employment First, including video messages from Governor Roy Cooper and several state employees with disabilities on the occasion of Employment First's third anniversary on March 28, 2022, please visit the Employee First Testimonials page.

Supporting Employees with Disabilities

A person is considered to have a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

Executive Order No. 92 directs agencies to step up recruitment of applicants with disabilities, as well as to collect data regarding applicants and employees who self-identify as having disabilities, to ensure their representation and equitable treatment in the state government workforce.

To facilitate this, the OSHR is charged with providing non-discrimination guidance and policies to state agencies as well as expanded training and improved data collection opportunities. 

Exploring Work in North Carolina

With over 130,000 employees, North Carolina State Government is the largest employer in the state, with a vast array of jobs and career options available. Explore employment services, information, and resources to help individuals with disabilities prepare for, identify, and gain equal employment opportunities and join North Carolina’s workforce.