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A Job Development Efficiency Scale for Rehabilitation Professionals.

Among the most important skill requirements for rehabilitation professionals are those related to job development and placement activities. Assisting jobseekers with disabilities to find and secure competitive community jobs has traditionally been a critical function of rehabilitation professionals (Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification, 1997), and has been strengthened by recent social and legislative changes. The 1998 re-authorization of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments contained in the Workforce Investment Act, emphasizing that the most desirable outcome of state vocational rehabilitation services is a job. Also, new social security legislation, specifically the Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, modifies the financial restrictions for social security disability recipients in order to affirm the basic principle that all Americans should have the same opportunities to be productive citizens. Finally, a national poll conducted by Louis Harris & Associates (1994) found that more than two-thirds of Americans with disabilities who were not working wanted a job.

In addition to the trends noted above, the persistently poor labor force participation rates of individuals with disabilities underscores the importance of job development as a rehabilitation competency, particularly as these data indicate that only one-third of Americans with disabilities are working, and even fewer of those with severe disabilities participate in the labor market (U.S. Department of Labor, 1997). Bowe (1988) called individuals with disabilities the largest under-represented minority group in the labor force. These data strongly suggest the need for the field to examine how well rehabilitation professionals are practicing job development tasks.

There has been considerable discussion in the rehabilitation literature over the past decade regarding what types of job development practices are necessary to meet the demands of the new workplace, as well as improve employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities (Fabian, Luecking, & Tilson, 1995; Gilbride & Stensrud, 1999; Millington, Asner, Linkowski, & Der Stepanian, 1996). The available literature tends to distinguish between a "sales" model of job development and a "marketing" approach. The sales model is described as a set of practices geared toward convincing individual employers that a product has value and is worth "purchasing", whereas "marketing" refers to a set of practices designed to provide products and services to meet customer needs. Each of these approaches, and the requisite skills, may be necessary to assist jobseekers with disabilities, particularly those with severe disabilities (Millington et al., 1996). Identifying the skills required by these approaches and then evaluating job developers' feelings of proficiency in implementing them, may be an important step in improving placement outcomes.

One theoretical model that has been used extensively in the counseling literature for assessing performance proficiency is social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986). Social cognitive theory is based on the notion that certain cognitive constructs, particularly self-efficacy beliefs, strongly influence motivation and performance. In this theory, self-efficacy is defined as "people's judgments of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performance" (Bandura, 1986, p. 391). Self-efficacy as a concept has significant advantages over more general constructs such as self-confidence or self-esteem. One important difference is that it can be modified through learning experiences such as task mastery, vicarious learning, and verbal persuasion (Bandura, 1986). Second, is that it is domain-specific, thus it enables the identification of skills required for successful performance within targeted areas (such as job development or career counseling). Third, because items on self-efficacy instruments are directly related to those behaviors they are meant to assess, each item on these scales generally has interpretive validity. Finally, and perhaps most important, is that research has demonstrated that successful performance is not only dependent on the acquisition of requisite skills, but also the development of robust efficacy beliefs (Larson et al., 1992; Lent, Brown & Hackett, 1994).

In social cognitive theory, self-efficacy influences interests, goals, and ultimately performance. An individual's belief in his or her mastery of a task or skill contributes to that individual's interest in the skill, and, more importantly, is the most potent predictor of the performance of it (Bandura, 1986; Lent et al., 1994). Thus, self-efficacy beliefs of job development professionals are important, as their perceptions regarding their ability to perform a specific function will influence not only their interest, but also their behavior.

The role of self-efficacy and its effect on performance has not been widely studied in the literature on rehabilitation professionals' skills and competencies, but has received attention in other fields, particularly in counseling. Larson et al. (1992) developed and tested a counseling self-efficacy instrument for use in training graduate students. Their Counseling Self-Estimate Inventory (COSE) demonstrated utility in predicting performance accomplishments and identifying training needs. O'Brien Heppner, Flores, and Bikos (1997) developed and validated an efficacy scale for use in career counseling research and training. Their Scale was designed to be used by supervisors who were working with graduate students in career counselor education. Perrone, Perrone, Chan, and Thomas (2000) examined the usefulness of the Career Counseling Efficacy Scale developed by O'Brien and her colleagues and found that efficacy beliefs were related to job setting factors, as well as job tenure for school counselors.

This article describes an approach to assessing job development professionals' efficacy beliefs in an effort to identify how such factors contribute to successful client outcomes. Specifically, the purpose of the study was to describe the development and validation of a self-efficacy instrument for job development professionals. Such an instrument can be used as a self-assessment tool, to identify training needs, and to promote research related to identifying job development factors that contribute to successful placement outcomes for clients with disabilities.

Method

Sample and Procedures

The participants for this study were job development professionals who work in a variety of settings and who attended one of the training sessions offered by the Regional Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program for Community Rehabilitation Personnel at the University of Maryland in College Park offered during June -- September 1999. During the calendar year, 1999, participants in the training programs were primarily professionals and paraprofessionals working in community-based settings (88%), as well as state vocational rehabilitation agency staff (10%), and individuals in private rehabilitation practice (2%). A minimum of 200 participants was desired for the study (Pedhazur & Schmelkin, 1991), and those who attended the training programs were asked to complete the survey at the beginning of each training event. At the end of the study period, we had received 273 instruments, with 243 being complete and useable.

The Job Development Efficacy Scale (JDES) was distributed prior to the initiation of any training activities. The majority of the participants in the sample were individuals who described themselves as "direct service vocational staff such as job coaches" (66%). Eleven percent of the sample described themselves as vocational or rehabilitation counselors, and seven percent described themselves as supervisors of vocational staff. The remainder of the sample fell into categories such as life-skills or academic instructors, residential staff, or day programming direct service staff. For the entire sample, the average length of tenure in the present position was just over 3 years (3.2), with the average length of tenure in rehabilitation being 5.4 years.

Instrument

The first step in the assessment of job development and placement efficacy beliefs was the delineation of a set of specific skills that are required by rehabilitation professionals providing effective job development services to jobseekers with disabilities. The domain of skills required was identified through several methods. One was examination of task performance efficacy beliefs for other related instruments (e.g., Gist, 1987; Kanfer & Hulin, 1983). Second was by reviewing recent literature on job development and placement competencies, to gather a set of behaviorally relevant competencies that were described by various authors and that seem to be consensually related to achieving better employment outcomes for people with disabilities (Fabian et al., 1995; Gilbride & Stensrud, 1999; Millington et al., 1996). Based on this review, we identified three clusters or groups of skills that encompassed the set of practices suggested by these authors. These clusters of skills were 1) approaching potential job contacts; 2) dealing with employment barriers; and 3) managing employer concerns. For each of these clusters, we constructed specific items that appeared to assess the domain of that area. For example, "I am comfortable talking to prospective employers" was an item related to Group #1, "I am confident that I can place my clients in competitive jobs regardless of their disabilities" is related to area #2, as is: "It is difficult to secure job placements in the current business market."

The second part of the instrument consisted of a list of 27 barriers to job development and placement, drawn primarily from previous research on employment related barriers to placement (Fabian et al., 1995). Barriers ranged from negative employer attitudes to transportation problems. Respondents were asked to check as many barriers as they felt impeded their ability to perform.

Three rehabilitation colleagues, who are active in the area of job development and placement activities either by directly providing services, supervision, or training, reviewed the first version of the final scale. Colleagues were asked to screen items to determine that we had sufficiently captured the desirable domain, as well as to examine items for clarity and meaning. The final version of the instrument consisted of 20 items with a 7 point likert scale ranging from 1=Agree very little to 7=agree very much. Data regarding item and scale properties were first obtained. Results indicated internal consistency reliability to be .81. Item-total score correlations were generally high, with 14 of the 20 items having correlation coefficients from .50 to .70 and 6 items having coefficients between .35 and .50.

Results

Table 1 provides the means and standard deviations of responses to each of the items on the scale in descending order. As shown, item difficulties ranged from 4.1 (representing "some agreement") to 5.7, representing "considerable confidence". The least agreement was with the item, "It is difficult to balance the competing demands of consumers and employers" and the most agreement was with the item, "I am comfortable describing my agency to prospective employers."
Table 1

Perceived Difficulty of Job Development Tasks Arranged from Most to
Least Difficult

(N = 243)

Scale Item M SD

(*) It is difficult to balance the competing
 demands of consumers and employers 4.1 1.5

(*) It is difficult to secure jobs for my
 consumers in the current job market 4.2 1.5

(*) It is difficult for me to meet the right
 "contact" person in a prospective business 4.3 1.5

I am nervous when I have to approach unknown
 prospective employers about jobs 4.4 1.8

(*) Chance or luck is a key factor in my
 ability to find jobs for consumers 4.4 1.6

I can usually find jobs that match the
 qualifications and interests of the
 consumers I work with 4.5 1.4

(*) I have a difficult time finding jobs
 because there are so few jobs available 4.5 1.6

(*) It is hard for me to find jobs because
 there are so few jobs my consumers are
 qualified to do 4.5 1.6

I am confident that I can place my clients
 in competitive jobs regardless of their
 disabilities 4.6 1.5

I am confident about explaining disclosure
 issues to potential employers 4.6 1.5

I am confident about explaining to employers
 how to make their workplaces
 accessible to consumers with disabilities 4.7 1.5

I can use a variety of job placement
 strategies to develop and maintain placements 4.7 1.4

It is easy for me to market my agency services
 to prospective employers 4.8 1.5

I am confident about discussing my consumer's
 needs for job accommodations with employers 5.1 1.4

I am comfortable addressing sensitive issues
 regarding consumer disabilities without
 violating confidentiality 5.2 1.4

I am confident about dealing with stereotypes
 potential employers have about my consumers 5.3 1.5

I am confident about heating and responding
 to employer complaints 5.4 1.3

I am confident that employers are satisfied
 with my job placement services 5.4 1.1

I am comfortable meeting and talking with
 prospective employers 5.5 1.1

I am comfortable describing my agency to
 prospective employers 5.7 1.2

Scale Item Order of Difficulty

(*) It is difficult to balance the competing
 demands of consumers and employers 1

(*) It is difficult to secure jobs for my
 consumers in the current job market 2

(*) It is difficult for me to meet the right
 "contact" person in a prospective business 3

I am nervous when I have to approach unknown
 prospective employers about jobs 4

(*) Chance or luck is a key factor in my
 ability to find jobs for consumers 5

I can usually find jobs that match the
 qualifications and interests of the
 consumers I work with 6

(*) I have a difficult time finding jobs
 because there are so few jobs available 7

(*) It is hard for me to find jobs because
 there are so few jobs my consumers are
 qualified to do 8

I am confident that I can place my clients
 in competitive jobs regardless of their
 disabilities 9

I am confident about explaining disclosure
 issues to potential employers 10

I am confident about explaining to employers
 how to make their workplaces
 accessible to consumers with disabilities 11

I can use a variety of job placement
 strategies to develop and maintain placements 12

It is easy for me to market my agency services
 to prospective employers 13

I am confident about discussing my consumer's
 needs for job accommodations with employers 14

I am comfortable addressing sensitive issues
 regarding consumer disabilities without
 violating confidentiality 15

I am confident about dealing with stereotypes
 potential employers have about my consumers 16

I am confident about heating and responding
 to employer complaints 17

I am confident that employers are satisfied
 with my job placement services 18

I am comfortable meeting and talking with
 prospective employers 19

I am comfortable describing my agency to
 prospective employers 20

(*) Means reversed to account for negative
wording


Length of time in current position was categorized into: 1) less than 2 years; 2) 2 to 5 years; 3) more than 5 years in order to assess the effects of tenure on total efficacy score outcomes. Means for each of the three groups were 92, 96 and 100 respectively; even though the differences in mean scores were relatively small, they were significant, F (2)=4.1,12 [is less than]. 01. We also examined the relationship between the summed scale score and the number of barriers that respondents perceived as impeding their ability to find jobs for people with disabilities. The correlation between these was .-48 (p [is less than] .0001), indicating that the higher the overall score on the scale, the fewer barriers to placement were checked.

An exploratory factor analysis of the scale was conducted in order to determine whether the items we selected were consistent with the factors we thought they represented. Principal components analysis (PCA) is a statistical method for reducing data to its latent or underlying factors (Pedhazur & Schmelkin, 1991). Factor loadings of the 20 items of the Scale are presented in Table 2, along with their eigenvalues and proportion of variance accounted for by each factor. For the sample, three factors emerged which had eigenvalues of more than 1. The three factor solution accounted for 55.5% of the total variance of the Scale, and was the most clearly interpretable when orthogonally rotated to the varimax criterion. After extracting the first three components or factors, increments in the proportion of variance extracted by the remaining factors were increasingly small, as factors did not meet the criterion for eigenvalues greater than 1.0, the default value for PCA in the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 9.0. Only one of the items had high loadings ([is greater than] .40) on more than one factor
Table 2

Summary of Principal Components Factor Analyses with Varimax
Rotation of Items

Scale Item Factor I Factor II

It is difficult to balance competing
 demands of consumers & employers -.002 .66

I am confident that employers are satisfied
 with my job placement services .17 -.005

I have a difficult time securing jobs
 because there are so few available in
 the local job market .19 .68

I can usually find jobs that match the
 qualifications and interests of the
 consumers I work with .28 .27

I am nervous when I have to approach
 unknown prospective employers about jobs .22 .40

It is difficult for me to meet the "right"
 contact person in a prospective business .12 .71

It is difficult to secure jobs for my
 consumers in the current job market .15 .75

I am confident about heating and responding
 to employer complaints about my services .008 -.003

Chance or luck is a key factor in my ability
 to find jobs for consumers -.15 .58

I am confident about my ability to describe
 my agency to prospective employers .23 -.005

I am comfortable meeting and talking with
 prospective employers .26 .007

It is easy for me to market my agency
 services to prospective employers .18 .28

It is hard for me to find jobs because there
 are so few that my consumers are
 qualified to do .004 .69

I can use a variety of job placement
 strategies to develop and maintain
 placements .61 .12

I am confident about explaining to employers
 how to make their workplaces accessible to
 consumers with disabilities .79 -.35

I am confident about explaining disclosure
 issues to potential employers .73 .001

I am confident about dealing with stereotypes
 potential employers have about my consumers .69 .008

I am confident about addressing sensitive
 issues regarding consumer disabilities
 without violating confidentiality .70 -.001

I am confident that I can place my clients in
 competitive jobs regardless of their
 disabilities .51 .16

I feel confident about discussing my
 consumer's needs for job accommodations .69 .005

Eigenvalue 5.5 2.7

% Total Variance 31.5 15

Scale Item Factor III

It is difficult to balance competing
 demands of consumers & employers -.004

I am confident that employers are satisfied
 with my job placement services .61

I have a difficult time securing jobs
 because there are so few available in
 the local job market -.13

I can usually find jobs that match the
 qualifications and interests of the
 consumers I work with .67

I am nervous when I have to approach
 unknown prospective employers about jobs .60

It is difficult for me to meet the "right"
 contact person in a prospective business .28

It is difficult to secure jobs for my
 consumers in the current job market -.003

I am confident about heating and responding
 to employer complaints about my services .50

Chance or luck is a key factor in my ability
 to find jobs for consumers .11

I am confident about my ability to describe
 my agency to prospective employers .78

I am comfortable meeting and talking with
 prospective employers .78

It is easy for me to market my agency
 services to prospective employers .61

It is hard for me to find jobs because there
 are so few that my consumers are
 qualified to do .004

I can use a variety of job placement
 strategies to develop and maintain
 placements .17

I am confident about explaining to employers
 how to make their workplaces accessible to
 consumers with disabilities .12

I am confident about explaining disclosure
 issues to potential employers .11

I am confident about dealing with stereotypes
 potential employers have about my consumers .008

I am confident about addressing sensitive
 issues regarding consumer disabilities
 without violating confidentiality .20

I am confident that I can place my clients in
 competitive jobs regardless of their
 disabilities .32

I feel confident about discussing my
 consumer's needs for job accommodations .23

Eigenvalue 1.7

% Total Variance 9


Seven of the 20 items loaded on Factor 1. Loading most heavily on this factor were those items reflecting how confident respondents felt addressing specific employer concerns about hiring a person with a disability. Examples of this factor included items concerned with comfort level in explaining accessibility issues to employers (.79), identifying job accommodations (.69), and disability disclosure (.73). Also loading on this factor was the item concerning confidence about using a variety of job placement strategies (.61) and confidence in being able to find jobs for clients regardless of their disability (.51). Overall, Factor 1 items seemed to reflect a general confidence in addressing and managing employer concerns regarding hiring people with disabilities, thus it was labeled Managing Employer Concerns.

Seven items loaded on Factor 2. Items loading the heaviest focused on barriers to finding jobs, including the difficulty of placing clients with disabilities in any type of job (.69), the paucity of jobs available (.68 and .75); and the difficulty in balancing the demands of employers and jobseekers in the job placement process (.66). As these items all seemed to reflect concerns regarding being able to locate any jobs for people with disabilities due to employer, consumer, or labor market barriers, Factor 2 was described as Barriers to Placement.

The six items that loaded heaviest on Factor 3 reflected confidence in developing employer relationships and marketing activities. Examples of items here included confidence in positively describing agency services (.77), meeting prospective employers (.78), securing employer satisfaction with job placement services (.60), and responding to employer complaints (.50). This factor was labeled Marketing Services.

Discussion

The present study indicates the psychometric properties of a job development efficacy scale for rehabilitation professionals. The individual items on the scale correlated moderately to strongly with the overall score. Moreover, the factor analysis revealed that the items could be grouped into three clusters of behavioral domains that may be associated with tasks of successful job development: managing employer concerns, managing barriers to placement, and developing employer relationships. The fact that score totals correlated with years in the job provides one measure of convergent validity of the Job Development Efficacy Scale.

This Scale presents a potential tool for improving professional job development and placement practices, with several implications for training new and existing staff. Trainers and educators could use it as a means of determining specific content to cover or emphasize in curriculum. For example, staff who score low on those items related to Factor 2, Barriers to Placement, might require values-based training, particularly since the beliefs that they hold about job seeking and people with disabilities will affect the performance and expectations of the job seekers they represent. On the other hand, individuals who indicate some problems on Factor 1, Managing Employer Concerns, require a different sort of training designed to provide them with specific information and suggestions regarding areas such as reasonable accommodations and disclosure. Those individuals who score the lowest on Factor 3, Marketing Services, might benefit from more rehearsal or mentoring to acquire a level of general interpersonal confidence. Similarly, use of the Scale might be advantageous in university-based courses in job development and placement, providing insight to students and faculty regarding specific areas on which to focus.

However, before use of the Scale as a tool for training or education is undertaken, it is also important to note, as Lent et al. (1994) stated, that over-estimations of competence, particularly in relation to actual skills, is as detrimental as under-estimations. Over-estimations of confidence might characterize individuals with little or no experience in the field (or newly entering students), who are unable to accurately assess their skills in performing tasks, as they may be unaware of the nature and extent of the skill requirements. However, under-estimations of skills in relation to actual performance is also detrimental, as this pattern may characterize staff who avoid the tasks of job development because of faulty judgments of their capacity to perform them. Thus, it appears that there may be an "optimal level" of efficacy that needs to be identified through longitudinal studies of modifications of beliefs as a result of exposure to training (O'Brien et al., 1997). Although the present study doesn't include an investigation of how efficacy is modified as a result of exposure to training, this type of study would help assess how well job development training programs improve staff performance.

It would also be beneficial to conduct research studies examining how efficacy beliefs relate to actual performance, namely, helping a client get a job. Such studies could fill the gaps in knowledge regarding successful employment outcomes. For example, studies identifying jobseekers' characteristics and skills that contribute to successful employment outcomes have been published (i.e., Anthony, 1994; Tsang, Lam, Ng, Leung, 2000), as well as studies documenting effective placement methods (i.e., Ellison, Danley, Bromberg, Palmer-Ekbs, 1999; Gates, Akabas, Oran-Sabia, 1998; Millington et al., 1996). However, little is known about the skills of job development professionals who provide these services, and it seems important to be able to describe these skills in order to study their correlation with placement outcomes. Self-efficacy may be one of the most significant attributes of the job development professional associated with successful employment outcomes.

There are several limitations of the study that need to be addressed. One is that the sample, although large enough for exploratory factor analysis, was too small to divide in half in order to explore the stability of the factor structure identified. A second limitation is that the participants were heterogeneous. The majority reported that they were primarily job development professionals, however, a significant minority were engaged in other rehabilitation areas. A third limitation is that the Scale was administered to participants prior to their receiving the training program. Re-administering the same instrument after the training would have provided evidence of its sensitivity to measuring change as a result of exposure, as well as more evidence of its validity.

The renewed emphasis in the field of rehabilitation on assisting jobseekers to find and keep jobs has resulted in a renewed emphasis on job development and placement activities, evident in both the amount of attention it has received and the descriptions of new methods and techniques for improving it. Service accountability, whether it is demanded by insurance providers, managed care companies, or state authorities also serves to heighten the focus on investigating those methods that are related to client outcomes. Focusing on job developer's self-efficacy can provide one of the tools through which we will be able to increase participation of jobseekers with disabilities in competitive employment.

References

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Ellen S. Fabian, Ph.D., CRC, 3214 Benjamin Building, Department of Counseling & Personnel Services, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Email: ef24@umail.umd.edu
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Author:Waugh, Cathy
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2001
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