Supported Employment: Discovery and Vocational Profiling
Another element of supported employment that can be a bit of a “head-scratcher” when first encountered is “Discovery and Vocational Profiling”.
In simple terms, discovery and vocational profiling is a very clever way of determining how easily a disabled person can enter into employment. It is a relatively new method for making this determination, which has proven to be quite effective in contrast to previous techniques.
Previously, when assessing how well a disabled person could enter the workforce, three criteria were examined:
• Job Matching
Eligibility determined if the disabled person was eligible for supported employment services from the government and community groups. To make this determination, applicants had the extent of their disability evaluated — often a demeaning and inconvenient process.
Employability determined if the disabled person was “capable” of working. This is a difficult thing to measure because various jobs have greatly different requirements and disabled people are all unique. The fact that this determination was often made by someone working in a government office led to all kinds of problems!
Job Matching looked for suitable positions for the disabled person. The quality of the job match completely relied upon the quality of the evaluation performed. The evaluator also had to predict how suitable a role would be for a particular person, which was not always easy. It was entirely possible for an evaluator to incorrectly assess the suitability of a position for a disabled person.
As you can see, there were a number of problems with the previous methods, which largely relied upon the skill of the evaluators involved.
Discovery and Vocational Profiling
Experts eventually decided that a smarter and more inclusive way of matching jobs to disabled people was required, so “discovery and vocational profiling” was born! Woohoo!
The discovery component of “discovery and vocational profiling “ is a flexible information gathering process. There are a wide range of questions which are used to discover more information about the applicant and inform the facilitator about the situation. Over time, the facilitator builds a relationship with the disabled person and gains a deep understanding of their capabilities and life experiences.
This is different from the traditional approach, where skills and abilities are critically evaluated in an office or medical environment. Instead, the facilitator gains an in-depth knowledge of the person involved, builds a close relationship with them, then helps them find the perfect workplace.
Instead of focussing on what the applicant can do in technical or medical terms, the facilitator gains knowledge of their entire skill set, personality, goals, experience and capabilities. This strategy also looks at the applicant’s support network, including friends, family and living situation. The facilitator will talk to all parties involved and look for the right solution based on a person’s unique requirements.
Another key difference between this approach and the previous one is that all applicants are seen as employable! It skips the tests and rigmarole that was found in the old “eligibility” and “employability” regime. That means no tests, no medical examinations and no poking or prodding! The entire process is more cooperative and less evaluative.
The vocational profile is a way to properly record all of the information found in the discovery phase.
The vocational profile does NOT:
• Focus on test scores
• Numerically measure skills or abilities
• Judge the applicant based on the abilities of others
• Cast a judgement on their suitability for a particular job
Instead, the vocational profile WILL:
• Record the disabled person’s job preferences, what kind of job they want, where they want to work, when they want to work, the preferred work environment
• Talk about the person’s mobility and transport requirements
• Mention their social skills
• Discusses how well they can communicate and interact with other staff
• Talk about physical capabilities and work performance
• Talk about job history
• Look at personal networks (friends and family), who may assist the disabled person
• Talk about personal skills and motivation on the job
In short, it will be a wide-ranging profile of all the things that determine the perfect job for a disabled person. Thanks to the discovery and profiling process, getting into work is a lot easier and less daunting!