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Demand-side job development: a model for the 1990s.

Every textbook has a chapter on it. Every vocational rehabilitation provider says they do it. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires it. It, being placement. Placement and employer development are pivotal--some would suggest primary--to the rehabilitation process. Section 2 goal number 8 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act (Public Law 93-112) states rehabilitation services should be designed to "promote and expand employment opportunities in the public and private sectors for handicapped individuals and place such individuals in employment."

There are approximately 13 million people with disabilities who are working age, and only 37% of these work full or part time (ICD, 1986). When the remaining 8 million people with disabilities were surveyed, 67% indicated that they wanted to work (ICD, 1986). Despite the legal mandate and billions of dollars spent on vocational rehabilitation, approximately 2/3 of working age people with serious disabilities remain un- or underemployed (McCarthy, 1988; Wehman & Melia, 1985). Consequently, although thousands of consumers have benefited from rehabilitation services, much more needs to be done.

Since the inception of civilian vocational rehabilitation in 1920 a number of placement models have been developed and implemented. These models all have merit, and can point to successfully employed clients as confirmation of their success. However, a current unique convergence of trends makes the 1990s an appropriate time to introduce a new model--demand-side job development. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the characteristics of the current models, outline the characteristics of the new model, and show how demand-side job development capitalizes on the unique trends of the 1990s.

Current Delivery Models

Almost all current placement and job development services fall within one of the following four delivery models: Rehabilitation counselor provided; specialized professionals; subcontracted service; and supported employment (place-first models).

The traditional approach has been to view placement as the end-state of the vocational rehabilitation counselor/client relationship (Gandy, Martin, Hardy & Cull, 1987; Vandergoot 1987a; Wright, 1980). Research has focused on the skills needed by rehabilitation counselors to successfully place clients along with the specific services, techniques, and time required for success (Vandergoot 1987b; Zadny & James, 1976; Zadny & James, 1977). This model still dominates the State-Federal system where most counselors work under some numerical requirement to successfully rehabilitate people with disabilities. In most states success is based on the number of status code 26 closures (this is the State-Federal designation of a case closed rehabilitated) that a counselor obtains. A study of the attitudes of the 64 members of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR)(Herbert & Wright, 1985) indicated that they felt rehabilitation counselor education programs should put more emphasis on job placement and job development skill enhancement. This finding further supports the idea that the directors of the state vocational rehabilitation departments view placement as an important job requirement of their counselors.

The second model entails the use of specialized professionals. A study by Pelavin (1988) indicated that there are approximately 328 full time equivalents (FTE's) nationwide identified as placement specialists. (In comparison to 6,635 counselors). This model emerged during the mid 1970s (Melia, 1984). A number of factors contributed to the development of this model including the focus of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act on people with the most severe disabilities, and service delivery advances such as job club (Azrin, Flores, & Kaplan, 1975; Vandergoot, 1987a). A great deal of research also has focused on how specialized placement services should be structured to enhance client outcomes (McLoughlin, Garner & Callahan, 1987; Molinaro, 1977). The use of placement specialists to provide job seeking skills, job club, employer development and other technical services has been widely discussed and frequently used.

The third model, contracted services, is more recent. The primary example of this model is Projects with Industry (PWI), but may also include transitional employment and use of other private (both for and not-for-profit) organizations (Hayward, Reisner, & Choisser, 1986; Wehman & Melia 1985). A major purpose of contracted services is moving the placement function closer to the employer. In PWI this is done through the use of employer councils (Baumann, 1986). PWI uses placement specialists as in the second model, but also emphasizes the development of cooperative relationships between rehabilitation providers and employers. Eger (1990) reported that PWI projects are working with over 5000 businesses and unions and over 125,000 consumers have been served.

The fourth model, supported employment, represents a dramatic shift from the prior three. Supported employment de-emphasizes pre-requisite employability, skills, and preplacement services, and instead focuses on post-placement training, integration and ongoing support (Bellamy, Rhodes, Mank, & Albin, 1988; Wehman & Moon, 1988). Supported employment represents a conceptual, technological and public policy change from all previous rehabilitation services. This model has focused on, and been found to be successful with, people with severe disabilities who previously may have been found non-feasible for traditional rehabilitation services. Despite the profound "ideological" and technological shift in this model it still shares a number of characteristics with the previous models.

Characteristics of Current Models

Each of these models share five characteristics, and the first three share a sixth.

1. Supply-side focus. Each model is focused on getting people with disabilities hired. The models have, as their primary goal, the rehabilitation and employment of people with disabilities.

2. Sales approach. Each model is based on "selling" a person with a disability or program to an employer. Even in the case of supported employment, an employment specialist first has to convince an employer to hire a specific supported consumer.

3. Client-centered services. In each model the services provided by the rehabilitation professional are primarily for the person with the disability.

4. Specific-client focused. A central structural obstacle to employer development always has been the fact that most rehabilitation professionals have a case load. This precludes generic job/employer development aimed at increasing the range and quality of potential jobs. It also provides little incentive for counselors to spend substantial amounts of time working with employers on issues not directly related to placing specific rehabilitation clients. This is often true even among job development specialists. Although placement specialists are usually expected to conduct general employer development, their time is usually completely scheduled with current clients in placement status.

5. Public funding. Almost every rehabilitation provider receives public funding. While PWI and some not-for-profits also have strong private community funding, few would be able to provide the level and quality of services required without public funding.

6. Services end. Except in the case of supported employment, at some point, usually 60 days post-placement the file is closed. This often precludes rehabilitation professionals from assisting consumers to obtain promotions or advancement.

Current Unique Circumstances

There are four trends that make the rehabilitation environment of the 1990s uniquely different from the past. These trends are: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); the budget deficit; outcome orientation; and Workforce 2000. These trends make the 1990s a particularly appropriate time to introduce a demand-side model of placement.

1. The ADA. Although disagreement exists over the ultimate impact of the ADA on employer hiring behavior, little disagreement exists on the dramatic "psychological" impact of the ADA on consumers with disabilities (Dart, 1990). As participation and employment are reconceptualized as civil rights, consumer demands and employer compliance inevitably will be affected. Employer concern over ADA regulations already has contributed to increased interest in getting information from the rehabilitation profession on hiring and accommodating people with disabilities (Gilbride, Stensrud, & Connolly 1992). This interest can be met by "rehabilitation consultants" who see employers as clients.

Employers do not seem to be intentionally prejudicial, but do require assistance in increasing their "comfort" with recruiting people with disabilities (McCarthy, 1988). One way to increase employer comfort is to provide consulting and training to them on how to better recruit, accommodate, and integrate workers with disabilities. Although programs like Windmills (California Governor's Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped, 1981), and trainers like Pimentel (1984) have been assisting employers with these issues for a number of years, these services have not been systematically incorporated into the job duties of rehabilitation counselors or placement specialists (Rubin, Matkin, Ashley, Beardsley, May, Onstott, & Puckett, 1984; Wright, Leahy, & Shapson, 1987).

2. Budget Deficit. Despite the ADA, there is little reason to believe that major new monies will be found in the federal budget for rehabilitation services in the foreseeable future. At best rehabilitation may slightly increase its share of the budget pie, but dramatic increases are foreseen by no one. The same dilemma holds true for state budgets. Most states have constitutions that require they maintain a positive fund balance, and numerous states are currently facing deficits. It is not anticipated that states will be able to supplement the current financial resources of public rehabilitation agencies. In many states, such as Iowa, rehabilitation professionals are being laid off despite the fact that 80% of their salaries derive from federal sources. Further, many states are not able to provide the matching funds necessary to receive all of the federal monies available to them. This leaves the private for-profit sector as the major source of increased funding. One of the best ways to tap that resource it to offer services that employers see as valuable and for which they are willing to pay.

3. Outcome emphasis. Increasingly, the focus in rehabilitation and other social services is away from process and toward outcomes. By the 1980s, the focus on accountability, as required by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, was being felt. Prior to 1973 federal regulation was primarily concerned with exerting procedural controls. This method was highly successful in ensuring equal access, client participation, and the delivery of services. During the 1980s, the concern emerged that procedural controls had become excessive (all that "red tape") and the initial impetus behind the profession of rehabilitation, getting people to work, had been buried under documentation regulations. Further, recent budget and personnel cutbacks have necessitated close evaluation of program effectiveness. Outcome measures, cost/benefit ratio evaluation and demonstrated effectiveness will increasingly become the coin of the realm. This already is clearly evident in supported employment and will become more so in all vocational rehabilitation services (Bellamy, Rhodes, Mank, & Albin, 1988; McLoughlin, Garner, & Callahan, 1987).

4. Workforce 2000. The profound changes currently taking place in the American work force will translate into dramatic changes in hiring and work environment structuring over the next 10 to 20 years (Johnston & Packer, 1987). Employers will increasingly have to recruit and accommodate people from the non-traditional labor pool just to meet their labor needs. Few employers, however, are currently prepared to do so. They have little experience recruiting outside the white, male labor pool of people without disabilities (Hopkins, Nestlerroth, & Bolick, 1991).

Recruiters have, since the 1960s, experienced a labor market in which they could choose from a large pool of well-qualified applicants. When asked how they will cope with a competitive employer market, responses range from the uncreative use of traditional approaches, to ignoring that a problem exists (NCEE, 1990). Of the people who recommend changes in recruitment strategies toward a more proactive and aggressive approach, most make reference only to expanding recruitment within the female and ethnic minority labor pools. Few recommend expanding recruitment within the population of people with disabilities (Hopkins, Nestleroth, & Bolick, 1991).

Demand-Side Job Development

The central focus of demand-side job development is providing services directly to employers to help them meet their labor needs by hiring people with disabilities. A number of previous authors have suggested that rehabilitation professionals should provide employer-consultation services (Garvin, 1983; Molinaro 1977). Some rehabilitation professionals are currently assisting employers in return to work programs after an industrial injury, and in other disability management capacities (Ritter & Ledlair, 1990; Williams & Fidanza, 1990).

The present model recommends going beyond these services to actually increase the number and range of positions that people with disabilities can perform, and then assist the employer in developing a proactive recruitment strategy to fill those positions with qualified applicants with disabilities. In effect, this model suggests that we must do more than provide rehabilitation to people with disabilities, we must rehabilitate the environments in which they will work. Until the work environment is physically, procedurally, interpersonally and culturally accessible, full access to appropriate employment by people with disabilities will remain a distant goal.

Characteristics of Demand-Side Job Developyers'ment

1. Increase demand. The purpose of the demand-side model is to identify the jobs that the specific employer indicates he/she has difficulty filling. The rehabilitation professional evaluates the essential functions of those jobs, and performs cost/benefit analyses on levels of accommodations and task restructuring. The professional then assists the employer to develop a plan by which people with disabilities can be recruited to perform those jobs. The rehabilitation consultant may even provide recommendations back to public rehabilitation agencies on current and future labor requirements of local business and industry to assist rehabilitation counselors in advising consumers into needed occupations and training programs.

2. Consultation approach. Rehabilitation professionals will not be selling clients, but rather their expertise in helping employers to solve their human resources needs. Rehabilitation professionals will need to develop the knowledge and skills required to successfully provide these consultation services. Their role will be that of organizational development (OD) and human resource development (HRD) consultants who identify ways to alter how work is done. Rather than focus only on rehabilitating clients, this approach also focuses on rehabilitating work places. It goes beyond job analysis and accommodation to work flow design.

3. Employer needs focus. Rehabilitation professionals must have a thorough understanding of the real concerns of employers and be able to speak to their needs. Historically, rehabilitation professionals have been trained to understand employers' needs in order to sell a client. The demand-side model recommends that rehabilitation professionals learn how to understand and help employers get work done.

This model is based on the assumption that all people are hired by employers to help get work done. The people who convince an employer that they offer the best resources to do this will get the job. The role of demand-side rehabilitation is to have employers view people with disabilities as such resources. For this to be the case, careful job matching must be done before rehabilitation clients apply for jobs. The need is not to find clients jobs, but rather to match employer need with client competencies.

4. Job focused. The goal of this model is to increase the number and range of jobs that people with various functional limitations can perform within a specific organization. Rather than pushing them out the door of the rehabilitation system, this approach seeks to pull them in the door of the employer system. This model suggests that the professional first work with employers to identify jobs and develop accommodation strategies, and then find applicants. Networking with potential employee pools will be required (e.g. Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), Department for the Blind, Projects With industry, insurance rehabilitation, Veterans Administration, etc.). The rehabilitation professional will be seeking people with specific capacities and characteristics to fill the available positions.

5. Private funding. All services provided by the rehabilitation professional will be paid for by the employer who is accustomed to paying for consulting services that solve organizational problems. If employers' real needs are being addressed and met, they will be willing to pay for those services. Every client placed in this manner becomes a functional increase in the VR budget. VR will continue to play a pivotal role in placement, but the role will balance the needs of two clients: the person with a disability and the person with a job opening.

6. Consultation is on-going. Not only do many rehabilitation clients have continuing difficulty in maintaining employment, advancement is often minimal. The lack of advancement potential experienced by many rehabilitation consumers is similar to the glass ceiling identified for women and minorities (Morrison, White & Van Velsor, 1987; Reynolds, 1987). It is as if there were a "glass-ramp," which allows people with disabilities to view the upper levels of corporate management, but is not structured strongly enough to allow upward movement. Having rehabilitation professionals working with an employer in an on-going fashion allows continuing levels of job and employer culture accommodation, thus supporting more clients to progress beyond entry level work.

7. Service is everything. Employers are accustomed to purchasing services, and they have high expectations. Rehabilitation professionals will have to provide excellent service to these employer-clients or they will lose them. If employers do not feel they can trust rehabilitation placement specialists to give them the best job-person match possible, if they feel clients are being "dumped" on them, this system will fail. If employers feel they are being harassed by rehabilitation personnel and told that they should hire people with disabilities because it is "good for the person," or because "it is the law" they will only feel more alienated from the VR placement system.

8. The goal is to improve the financial position of the employer. Many times in rehabilitation, field service professionals are uncomfortable with the profit motive. Rehabilitation professionals have seen the short-sighted pursuit of money as a tactic that often hurts clients or restricts the development of their potential. This is a very real problem that must be addressed. Within a demand-side model of placement, however, rehabilitation professionals must respect the fundamental need of employers to make enough profit to stay in business. Rather than feel uncomfortable with this, and rather than assume an adversarial posture, rehabilitation professionals will have to learn how to demonstrate, in financial terms, the benefits of hiring their clients.

9. Help everyone on the line. Probably two of the most critical audiences to whom rehabilitation must speak are the line supervisors and middle managers. These people have little exposure to the goals and ideals of rehabilitation, and have far too many shorterm problems to consider how their actions affect other people or society as a whole. They have immediate problems, short-term goals, and tremendous pressure to get work done efficiently. One of the largest benefits of a demand-side approach to placement is that it views the line supervisor as a critical client who must be consulted, involved, educated, and supported. Hiring and supervising someone different (different can be in any way, language, culture or functional capacities) is often seen as just one more hassle. Supporting supervisors can consequently make hiring rehabilitation consumers "user friendly". If this occurs, people with disabilities will get more and better job offers, be more accepted on the job and have a better chance of advancement.

Placement Activities

Placement activities would not necessarily change under a demand-side approach to placement. Many of the traditional approaches would continue. The major difference would be in adding many new placement strategies. The emphasis would shift to doing more employer development and consultation.
Old Model New Model
l. Individual job analysis + 1. System-wide work design
2. Identify and remove + 2. Identify and eliminate
 physical barriers physical, procedural, and
 interpersonal barriers
3. Train and coach VR + 3. Train, coach, and consult
 clients to line managers, HRD
 personnel, and business
4. Account development + 4. Consultant approach to
 approach to employers employers
5. Assist in identifying + 5. Cost-benefit analysis of
 accommodations accommodations
6. Limited assistance to + 6. Human systems planning
 employer planning (recruitment, selection,
 training, retention,
 support, development)
7. Assess client needs and + 7. Assess corporate culture,
 expectations structure, information
 systems, and management

Summary and Conclusions

Demand-side job development creates a number of challenges for the rehabilitation profession. Key concerns include how to develop, institutionally support, and market the skills and knowledge necessary to be a valued consultant to employers. Many of the new skills needed by placement specialists, (e.g, understanding recruitment strategies, corporate culture, cost benefit evaluation) are included in rehabilitation administration training programs. However, they are not generally taught in rehabilitation counseling or placement programs. Utilization of rehabilitation administration curriculum materials and/or development of new materials and teaching procedures may be required.

Convincing employers that it is in their best interest to proactively identify and accommodate existing jobs is a new challenge for rehabilitation. The need for employers, supervisors and line staff to change their attitudes toward people with disabilities is obvious and well documented (Yuker, 1988). However, rehabilitation professionals have an equally difficult task in moving beyond "social service" attitudes. The initial focus on the needs of employers rather than the person with a disability, which successful utilization of this model requires, may be a difficult change for many. However, if real change is to be accomplished it is absolutely vital that employers believe that rehabilitation professionals understand, appreciate and can assist in helping them meeting their budget, profit and culture needs.

People with disabilities are a major (often untapped) labor resource. If rehabilitation responds to the unique opportunities of the 1990, we may move a major step closer to meeting the full participation goal at the heart of vocational rehabilitation.

Dennis D. Gilbride, Ph.D., Drake University, Rehabilitation Institute, 102 Memorial Hall, Des Moines, IA 50311.


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Author:Stensrud, Robert
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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