What's Wrong with Employment Inclusion?

Part 1

Since the mid 1980’s the Supported Employment Movement has been working to facilitate the employment inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. The basic model has branched out to serve people with different types of disabilities and barriers to employment and it has undergone some name changes and ‘re-branding’  along the way. It’s all about facilitating strengths-based, person-directed employment inclusion and, though we sometimes complicate it, sustainable employment inclusion is a relatively simple recipe.

Career Consultants who facilitate employment inclusion for people with disabilities or other barriers to employment typically use Career Development / Trait and Factor Theory, to discover a person’s strengths and qualities and then ‘match’ those strengths and qualities to an  occupation which appeals to the person being served. Ensuring that we only connect job-seekers to those jobs in which they have a  high degree of investment and demonstrated capacity addresses two important criteria; we meet the employer’s need for specific required talents and we foster sustainability of the job.

Employers interview people in an attempt to recruit and retain a person who will bring more profit than they cost, improve the work environment – and who will not leave the job within a year (which an average of 46% of new hires typically do). That’s a lot of anticipated success based on reading a resume and having a 45 minute conversation. For many employers, hiring is often no more than an educated guess and the risk of failure is significant.

When an effective employment inclusion service is involved, we can alleviate a lot of that risk. If we’ve done our work well, we should be able to do much better than a 46% failure rate. Not only have we addressed much of the ‘screening process,’ we’re typically aware that this job-seeker’s primary employment target is this very employer we’re presenting them to. This is typically choice number one, not just a stop along the way to something else. Our work doesn’t stop here either; if our services, importantly, recognize the ‘customer service’ needs of the employers we partner with, then we’ll provide post placement supports to assist with training, the development of natural supports, designing accommodations, mediating communication issues and generally supporting work performance and job retention. The work we do has high outcomes and specialized skill sets but the process remains simple.

So, why are the employment participation rates of people with disabilities not much better than they were 12 years ago? This part is not so simple.  (Part 2 of this Blog will be posted tomorrow)

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