Demand-Side Strategies in Vocational Rehabilitation: Responding to the Workforce Needs of Business Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Vocational Rehabilitation-Rehabilitation Research and Training Center Institute for Community Inclusion June 19, 2013
Dr. Susan Foley, ICI, Susan.Foley@umb.edu Hugh Bradshaw, Business Relations Manager, Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Hugh.Bradshaw@state.vt.us Robert Burns, ICI, Robert.Burns@umb.edu
Webinar Goals • Susan Foley will highlight the key activities of the VR RRTC on Demand Side Strategies • Bob Burns will present key elements from the session at the National Employment Conference in December 2012. • Hugh Bradshaw will describe and discuss the Progressive Employment Model, an innovative demand-side strategy arising out of Vermont.
VR RRTC on Demand Side Strategies • Funded by NIDRR starting 10/1/2012 • Three major initiatives: • Alabama Business Intelligence and LMI • Nebraska Middle Skill Initiative with the Healthcare Sector and Community Colleges • Vermont Progressive Employment Model and Learning Collaborative
Supporting Research and TTA • VR Agency Survey on Demand Side Strategies • Case Studies and Index of Emerging Practices • Administrative Data Analysis Using RSA 911 and LMI • Communities of Practices with Employers • On Demand TTA
NEC December 2012, Crystal City VA • Substantial demand for individuals to fill skilled jobs in the middle of the labor market, with many jobs there paying quite high wages • Workforce Alliance, Skills to Compete • Middle-skill jobs defined as requiring training and/or educational level beyond a HS degree but less than bachelor’s degree; ex. apprenticeships and on-the-job training
Nebraska VR • Find an industry – Connect the Partners • Employers, Community Colleges, VR • “Just-in-Time” technical skill training + work readiness
Types of Jobs / Industries • HVAC, Automotive, Trades (helper) • Health Care Industry – new sector for Nebraska
Introduction • Progressive Employment is a strategy for populations who have • Little or no work history • Long case histories • Low skill levels • Corrections involvement • Other barriers to employment
What Progressive Employment Does • Builds momentum • Addresses fears • Employer fears • Candidate fears • Increases skills and confidence • Removes labels • Offers flexibility to meet employers and candidates “where they’re at”
What Progressive Employment Is • A continuum of placement options geared to the skills and interests of the individual and the level of engagement negotiated with the business • A method to evaluate existing work skills, reduce fear and identify training, support or accommodation needs
What it is ... • A way to develop interpersonal and customer service skills • An opportunity for individuals to explore possible careers in short-term placements
What it is … • A way to introduce a candidate to a prospective employer, especially for those individuals who struggle to get their foot in the door • A tool to build skills, add recent work experience to a resumeʹ and develop professional references
Progressive Options • Practice Interview • Company tour • Job shadow • Short-term work experience/internship • On-the-job training • Temp-to-hire
Key Principles • Eliminates the construct of candidates needing to be “job ready” • Everyone is ready for something! • Creates employment-related opportunities no matter the readiness level • Employment activities may begin immediately • Progress is at an individualized pace
Key principles (cont.) • Small success leads to further success • Person can overcome fear • Allows incremental skill building • Activities can be planned to reduce perceived risk • Allows the employer to get to know the candidate as a person and as a worker prior to making a hiring decision
Key principles (cont.) • Provides flexibility and creativity based on the needs of the job seeker or the employer • Employer may not be currently hiring • Job seeker may want to explore the company or type of job • Employer feedback is GOLD
Key principles (cont.) • Low risk! • The employer is not required to hire the individual at the end of the placement • The individual is not committing to that particular job • Fear is a powerful force! • Employer resistance • Candidate resistance/lack of progress
Key principles (cont.) • Negotiated by employment staff directly with the employer • Written agreement as to the purpose of the training and expectations for skill development or experience
Key principles (cont.) • Provides a way for employment staff to “offer”a variety of options for an employer rather than “ask”for consideration of their customers for open positions • Is proven to increase employers’ understanding of disabilities
What Progressive Employment Is Not • A promise of employment • Providing a wage (unless the employer places the person on their payroll through an On-the-Job training option)
What it is not … • A full time placement – generally the candidate does not participate in excess of 25 hours per week • The only option – those who have skills and experience are placed directly into competitive employment whenever possible
What it is not ... • Long-term subsidized employment or “warehousing” – generally work placements don’t last longer than 8 weeks • A violation of the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA)
What if the placement doesn’t work out? • It is not a “failure” – the person still gains valuable experience and skill building • Provides information about what the person doesn’t want in terms of the job or the company culture • Any placement, even if short-term, may be used as experience on a resumeʹ
Vermont data FFY 2012 • Rehab rate for closed PE participants was 80% • For those participants who were closed successfully: • Over half (58%) were hired by the PE employer (66% for transition youth) • 80% entered VR with no earnings
Vermont data FFY 2012 (cont.) • Hours per week for successful closures: • 30+ hours per week: 42% • 10-29 hours per week: 39% • Less than 10 hours per week: 19% • PE type breakout: • Work experience: 88% • OJT: 8% • Other (job shadow, company tour): 4% • Average length: 6 weeks
Employer Feedback Before your engagement in the Progressive Employment program, did your company have a way to actively recruit candidates with disabilities?
Employer Feedback (cont.) As a result of participating in Progressive Employment, do you have a better understanding of how to recruit and hire candidates with disabilities?
Employer Feedback (cont.) Do you have a better understanding of how to accommodate workers with disabilities?
Employer Feedback (cont.) Overall, how satisfied are you with the Progressive Employment program?
Next Steps! Interested in the learning more about the VT Progressive Employment Model or the Learning Collaborative? Contact Us: Hugh.Bradshaw@state.vt.us For more information about the VR-RRTC on Demand Side Strategies contact us: Susan.Foley@umb.edu