Here at Into Work we have been supporting our clients to overcome barriers to employment. To do this we follow the 5-stage model for supported employment. The model features throughout our person-centered practice and enables the individual to recognise their skills and gain confidence in the recruitment process.
Supported employment services will have sophisticated and comprehensive processes for engaging clients by promoting their services widely in their local communities. Referral and access routes should be straightforward and promotional and information materials should be available in various formats.
Local services will be skilled at building trust and an effective working relationship with a new client who has approached them to find a job. They should take an informal approach that takes account of each individual’s needs, allowing people to involve their family or circles of support if they want to. This process can take several weeks and a few meetings before the person is ready to sign up for the service.
This is a “getting to know you” process where an employment worker helps the jobseeker to identify their goals, learning needs, individual skills and talents. Carers, family members or support workers can be involved if the person wants them to participate. Employment workers will take an informal approach to Vocational Profiling which seeks at all times to build the client’s capacity and give them ownership of the process.
A Vocational Profile is a comprehensive and formal document that captures all the necessary information to move onto the next stages of the Supported Employment framework. It informs the job finding process and makes finding a quality job match more likely. It enables the employment worker and the client to identify the type of occupation that best suits the jobseeker’s skills and preferences.
Vocational profiling can be a detailed and potentially lengthy process. It may take several months to complete a high quality Profile.
The third crucial element of the Model is the job marketing process. This involves the employment worker and client working together to find local vacancies and opportunities. These jobs may be advertised or can be sourced by the supported employment agency marketing directly to employers. This stage is designed to help clients overcome traditional recruitment and selection barriers, which can be too formal and seldom result in offers of employment. Recently the move to online recruitment by many employers has created a new barrier to employment for people with disabilities and long-term conditions.
The employment worker may try to encourage employers to modify their recruitment process – for example, by hosting a “working interview” which allow the client to demonstrate their skills in the workplace and allow the employer to gather the sort of evidence that a formal interview seeks to capture.
Generally, the aim is to secure ’employment and training’ rather than ‘training then employment’. This means that a client learns on the job. Most people develop skills faster in real work situations than in artificial environments. This process helps to overcome the “job readiness” barrier where people can get stuck in permanent training. It also increases people’s motivation significantly because from the outset they are employed, part of a team and getting paid.
The employer engagement stage has no set timescale, it will vary for each individual and it can take several months to find the right vacancy.
Once a employer has agreed to work with the supported employment service, a Job Analysis is usually carried out by the employment worker. This thoroughly investigates all aspects of the job on offer and the workplace, including health and safety. The Job Analysis might give pointers towards ways of carving together parts of different job descriptions that suit the client’s talents, or creating a new job description that is appropriate for the new worker and cost effective for the employer. As a rule, the more time that can be devoted to this stage, the better, if it allows the employment worker to gain an excellent understanding of the job and the employer. This will improve the likelihood of success and can enable a strong and lasting relationship to be built with a new employer.
On and Off the Job Support
The Job Analysis and Vocational Profile are used during this stage to ensure that the support the client receives when they enter the job is carefully planned and appropriate. Support is individually tailored and targeted and could include induction, training, regular reviews and workplace mentoring. The client’s individual goals and the support they will receive will be agreed and recorded on an On and Off the Job Action Plan.
In many cases, clients will be job coached on site at the employer’s premises to learn specific tasks and work routines. This 1-to-1 support can be gradually faded as the client grows in confidence and learns the job. Over time, the employment worker will identify natural supports in the workplace to ensure there is on-going support for the client from workmates and supervisors.
On the job support usually lasts for several months. This will depend on the plan agreed with the client and the employer and it will be reviewed regularly to ensure it is consistent with changing circumstances and the developing needs of the client.
Off the job support is also offered at this stage of the Model – if it is needed and the client wants it. This can include things like support with travel, money or housing if they will impact on the client’s new job. For example, the person may need help to manage money if this is the first time they have had a wage. Everything agreed should be recorded on the client’s On and Off the Job Support Plan.
( SUSE -Scottish Union of Supported Employment, 2010)