With supported employment, a lot of work is put in to examining the aspirations and capabilities of the prospective employee to ensure a suitable job match is found. The goal is for an employer to find a talented worker and for the employee to find a great job they love! The process of matching a prospective employee with a job is called “Employment Planning” (or Person Centred Planning).
Employment planning focusses on identifying a person’s career objectives, goals, abilities and personal preferences. The information gathered is then used to find the most suitable job lead or educational choice possible.
The Discovery Phase
The first part of employment planning involves something that most people love to do — talking about themselves!
The discovery phase is aimed at learning more about the person who is looking to enter the workforce. The information gathered is used to construct the job development plan. A support worker or mentor spends time with the person in their personal environment to learn about their capabilities and their employment goals.
There are no standardised tests or qualifications involved in the discovery phase. It is more about learning what interests the disabled person and what kinds of jobs match those interests.
Some of the questions asked in the discovery phase include:
• Discovering what factors are very important for the job to have —Does it need to be within 5 kilometres? Should it include training opportunities or a specific wage?
• Examining life experiences the person has with a variety of questions including: have they held a job before, have they gone to university, have they volunteered before, what hobbies do they have, what kinds of expertise do they have?
• What kinds of tasks does the person complete every day? Does the person use digital scales, open cardboard boxes, tidy rooms and use a computer already?
• What kind of support does the person need on the job? Do they need to have visual or audio aids in place to perform specific tasks? Is a work site mentor or peer support needed?
• What kind of tasks does the person enjoy doing or dislike doing? Are you happy to sit at a computer all day typing reports or would you prefer to be traveling to various locations when performing your job? Do you love or hate office environments?
• What is your dream job? Even if you can’t be the owner of Trump tower, the kind of job you are attracted to reveals important information about your aspirations and goals that can be used in the discovery phase.
That’s a lot of information!
Thankfully, the answers to these questions won’t be discovered with a massive form you need to fill out, they will be discovered through simple conversation with a friendly person. Often a person’s relatives and carers are a part of the conversation, helping to convey the kinds of tasks you enjoy.
From all of the information found in discovery, a simple list can be made which highlights the kinds of work elements that a prospective employee likes or dislikes. For example, a person might discover their likes/dislikes are:
Likes: Creative tasks (drawing and writing), working indoors, talking to workmates, using computers
Dislikes: Repetitive tasks, sweating in the hot sun, working late, hot environments, cleaning things, wearing a suit
This information can be very useful in the job research phase, to narrow down the kinds of roles which may be a great match.
Job Research Phase
The next step is to take look at what kinds of positions are available and how they match the personal goals and capabilities established in discovery. This step doesn’t involve actively applying for lots of jobs, it is more about assessing what kinds of jobs are a great match for the individual.
If a person thinks a particular job may be a match for they goals and skills, performing some further research on the role can help identify any issues. A person may need a certain kind of skill they may not have thought of. It is better to find this out in the research phase instead of day one at the job!
Other useful information that can be found in the job discovery phase includes:
• Identifying the best businesses to work for. Some companies have great reputations for incorporating people with disabilities into their workforce.
• Talking to prospective employers and other people about how certain jobs are performed
• Discovery of new jobs which the prospective employee may not have thought of before
• Finding out what kind of salary and benefits to expect in the role
• Further information about the qualifications required can be discovered
Networking is a key part of the job discovery phase. Talking to people about their jobs and the requirements for specific jobs may lead to new ideas and opportunities. It can also lead to job offers!
One useful technique which helps a prospective employee learn about a job is a “job taster”. Essentially the person performs the role for a short period to see if they like the job environment and related work routines. Usually a job taster will run for 2-4 weeks.
A job taster is NOT a test of a person’s skills or your ability to perform a job and it is NOT about testing if this precise job is the right match. It is done to answer more general questions like:
• Does the employee feel comfortable in the work environment? Was it too hot, too cold, too noisy or had too many distractions?
• How did it feel working in the role, was there too much pressure, was it too boring or was it too fast-paced?
• What was it like working with others in the role?
The information gathered can be used to better target which kind of job a person should apply for.
Other techniques that can used in the job discovery phase include:
• Interviews with people who perform various roles to learn about their daily activities
• Informational resources which inform the person about the kinds of activities that are involved for specific jobs
• Mentors who can give advice to the job seeker
• Community research to find out what support is available locally
After the discovery phase and research phase have been completed the prospective employee will have a clear vision of the kinds of jobs they are interested in. The next step is to build an action plan and apply for a few jobs!