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Staff Competencies & Skill Development


VR Competencies for Employer Support and Business Consultation

To provide effective support and consultation to businesses, it is essential to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the state vocational rehabilitation (VR) personnel who provide support to employers in their own states and communities.

The level of employer support by state VR personnel varies from state to state, and depends on the VR agency’s organizational structure. This table identifies several competencies relating to employer support in a state VR agency, wherever it is happening. The competencies are divided into three domains: Training and Coordination of Services, Connections and Relationships, and Providing Information and Support. Under these are competency clusters that are loosely placed into three categories based on their relevancy to either the state/central office level, the area/district level, or the local office level.

It is important to note that this table of staff competencies and skills can also be very helpful in updating and creating job descriptions and staff performance review forms. As staff are required to do more support and consultation to businesses, there will be a need to ensure that both job descriptions and performance review forms match the skills, knowledge, and abilities you are expecting from them. This table has outlined many of the areas you may want to consider as you are making these revisions. As you will note business engagement activity is essential across all levels of personnel.

 

COMPETENCY AREA STATE-CENTRAL OFFICE LEVEL
(Single Points of Contact, Business Relations Coordinators, etc.)
AREA OFFICE OR DISTRICT LEVEL
(Area Managers, Supervisors)
DIRECT SERVICE
(Business Relations Consultants, Employment Specialists, Counselors)
Training and coordination of services
 
  • Coordinate business consultant activity statewide as to coverage and engagement of employment sectors most relevant to customer needs
  • Coordinate and supervise employer support activities provided by staff under their supervision
 
 
  • Identify and support trainers who can be used to train business consultants and rehabilitation professionals on critical employer support approaches and tools
  • Support quality training on employer support tools and approaches for direct service staff
 
 
  • Set statewide goals for employer support and establish metrics to effectively evaluate the impact on job placement and business satisfaction
  • Develop area/office budget in a manner that business events and employer educational programs can be supported
 
 
  • Identify resources and knowledgeable staff to provide business information on issues regarding disability awareness, ADA requirements, and job analysis, as well as assistive technology and job accommodations
  • Effectively evaluate employment specialist/counselor knowledge, skills, and outcomes in the area of employer supports
 
 
  • Ensure that all staff are aware of the job-driven priority initiative and the agency’s strategic plans and goals, including moving the agency to a dual customer approach
  • Ensure that all staff are aware of the job-driven priority initiative and the agency’s strategic plans and goals, including moving the agency to a dual customer approach
 
Connections and relationships
With the business community
  • Take a lead role in building strong relationships within the business community. Though this may be initially a business engagement tactic, once business partnerships are established, the agency will be in a position to be a resource to the business.
  • Provide outreach and consultation to employers, educational institutions, and community organizations
 
 
  • Be involved with the governor’s office of business relations, if one exists
   
With contractors/CRPs
  • Develop and maintain and system to recruit and evaluate CRPs
  • Monitor CRP services and outcomes
  • Monitor CRP services and outcomes
Providing information and support
Recruiting and hiring  
  • Provide technical assistance to businesses on recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and retaining qualified workers with disabilities
  • Assist companies in the development of affirmative action plans that include the recruitment of qualified workers with disabilities
  • Assist employers in understanding the functional needs and capacities of qualified workers with disabilities
  • Provide technical assistance to businesses as to recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and retaining qualified workers with disabilities
  • Assist companies in the development of affirmative action plans that include the recruitment of qualified workers with disabilities
Job matching, modification, and accommodation    
  • Develop job-ready consumer profiles to enable job matching based on employer job orders/listings
  • Conduct job analyses
  • Provide consultation on job accommodations and assistive technology
Retention    
  • Maintain ongoing involvement with employers, follow up on placements
  • Facilitate retention solutions when necessary
Laws and regulations
  • Provide information on state and federal regulations that can assist business with hiring and maintaining employees with disabilities, such as Rehab Act Section 503 and federal and state tax incentive programs
 
  • Provide information on Section 503, including compliance and reasonable accommodation processes and procedures
  • Provide employers with information and assist in the use of incentives for the hiring of qualified workers with disabilities (e.g., Department of Labor waiver for community-based assessments, on-the-job training, on-the-job experience, tax credits for hiring qualified workers with disabilities, tax deductions for work accommodations)

VR Competencies – Learning Objectives for Employer Supports; Central Office [Download a .DOC version of this table]

The following table identifies competencies and potential learning objectives for training relating to Employer Supports in a State VR Agency, at State/Central Office level. They are divided into three domains: Training and Coordination of Services, Connections and Relationships, and Providing Information and Support.   

COMPETENCY AREA

STATE- CENTRAL OFFICE LEVEL

(Single Points of Contact, Business Relations Coordinators, etc.)

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

After training, the learner will be able to:

Training and coordination of services
 
  • Coordinate employer support activity statewide as to coverage and engagement of employment sectors most relevant to customer needs
  • Identify relevant employment sectors statewide and regionally
  • Describe the system/method being used to coordinate employer support activities
  • Identify and support trainers that can be utilized to train business consultants and rehabilitation professionals on critical employer support approaches and tools
  • Describe available training resources along with areas of expertise, training modalities, and cost.
  • Set statewide goals for employer support and establish metrics in order to effectively evaluate the impact on job placement and business satisfaction

 

  • Describe and explain the goals for employer support and evaluation metrics being used.
  • Identify resources and knowledgeable staff to provide information in disability awareness, ADA requirements, job analysis, AT, and job accommodations
  • Describe available resources in each of the targeted topic areas.
  • Ensure that all staff are aware of the Job Driven Priority initiative and the agency strategic plans and goals including moving the agency to a dual customer approach.
  • Describe the efforts the state agency is taking to ensure that all staff understand the  JD Priority, plans and goals
Connections and Relationships
 
  • Take a lead role in building strong relationships within the business community.
  • List the strategies being used/planned to build and maintain relationships with the business community.
  • Be involved with the Governor’s Office of Business Relations, the State Workforce Development Council, State Chamber of Commerce, and similar organizations.
  • Describe the organizations active and relevant to JD activities and how the state VR agency is involved with each.
  • Develop and maintain system to recruit and evaluate CRPs
  • Explain the current system for recruiting and evaluating CRPs.
  • Describe any needed changes/improvements
Providing Information and Support
 
  • Provide technical assistance to businesses on recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and retaining qualified workers with disabilities
  • Explain TA resources on recruiting, interviewing, hiring and retaining qualified workers with disabilities available from the state VR agency and other sources such as JAN
  • Assist companies in the development of Affirmative Action plans that include the recruitment of qualified workers with disabilities
  • Provide and describe examples of effective AA plans
  • List available resources for recruiting applicants with disabilities
  • Provide information on state and federal regulations that such as Rehab Act Section 503 and the federal and state tax incentive programs available for businesses
  • Explain relevant state and federal regulations, tax incentives, and other financial incentives such as OJT.

VR Competencies – Learning Objectives for Employer Supports; Area Office or District Level (Area Managers, Supervisors) [Download a .DOC version of this table]

The following table identifies competencies and potential learning objectives for training relating to Employer Supports in a State VR Agency, at State/Central Office level. They are divided into three domains: Training and Coordination of Services, Connections and Relationships, and Providing Information and Support.   

COMPETENCY AREA AREA-DISTRICT OFFICE LEVEL
(Area Managers, Supervisors)
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After training, the learner will be able to:
Training and coordination of services
 
  • Coordinate and supervise employer support activities provided by staff under their supervision
  • Explain and demonstrate approaches being used to coordinate employer support activities and provide supervision & support to staff engaged in these activities
  • Support quality training on employer support tools and approaches for direct service staff
  • Describe available training resources along with areas of expertise, training modalities, and cost.
  • Develop area/office budget in a manner that business events and employer educational programs can be supported
  • Demonstrate how the current budget supports these activities; or explain what would need to be changed in the current budget to provide this support.
  • Effectively evaluate employment specialist/counselor knowledge, skills, and outcomes in the area of employer supports
  • Explain and demonstrate approaches being used to evaluate employment specialist/counselor knowledge, skills, and outcomes in the area of employer supports
  • Ensure that all staff are aware of the Job Driven Priority initiative and the agency strategic plans and goals including moving the agency to a dual customer approach.
  • Describe the efforts the state agency is taking to ensure that all staff understand the  JD Priority, plans and goals
Connections and Relationships
 
  • Provide outreach and consultation to employers, educational institutions, and community organizations
  • List the strategies being used/planned to build and maintain relationships with the business community.
  • Monitor CRP services and outcomes
  • Explain the current system for recruiting and evaluating CRPs. Describe any needed changes/improvements
Providing Information and Support
 
  • Provide technical assistance to businesses on recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and retaining qualified workers with disabilities
  • Explain TA resources on recruiting, interviewing, hiring and retaining qualified workers with disabilities available from the state VR agency and other sources such as JAN
  • Assist companies in the development of Affirmative Action plans that include the recruitment of qualified workers with disabilities
  • Provide and describe examples of effective AA plans List available resources for recruiting applicants with disabilities
  • Provide information on state and federal regulations that such as Rehab Act Section 503 and the federal and state tax incentive programs available for businesses  
  • Explain relevant state and federal regulations, tax incentives, and other financial incentives such as OJT.

VR Competencies – Learning Objectives for Employer Supports; Direct Service Level (Business Relations Consultants, Employment Specialists, Counselors) [Download a .DOC version of this table]

The following table identifies competencies and potential learning objectives for training relating to Employer Supports in a State VR Agency, at State/Central Office level. They are divided into three domains: Training and Coordination of Services, Connections and Relationships, and Providing Information and Support.

COMPETENCY AREA DIRECT SERVICE LEVEL
(Business Relations Consultants, Employment Specialists, Counselors)
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After training, the learner will be able to:
Connections and Relationships
 
  • Provide outreach and consultation to employers, educational institutions, and community organizations
  • List the strategies being used/planned to build and maintain relationships with the business community.
  • Monitor CRP services and outcomes
  • Explain the current system for recruiting and evaluating CRPs. Describe any needed changes/improvements
Providing Information and Support
 
  • Assist employers in understanding the functional needs and capacities of qualified workers with disabilities
  • Share disability-related information using appropriate functional language and following disclosure guidelines
  • Provide technical assistance to businesses on recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and retaining qualified workers with disabilities
  • Explain TA resources on recruiting, interviewing, hiring and retaining qualified workers with disabilities available from the state VR agency and other sources such as JAN
  • Assist companies in the development of Affirmative Action plans that include the recruitment of qualified workers with disabilities
  • Provide and describe examples of effective AA plans List available resources for recruiting applicants with disabilities
  • Develop job-ready consumer profiles to enable job matching based on employer job orders/listings
  • Access and understand employer job orders/listing Develop consumer profiles in a format that facilitates job matching
  • Conduct job analyses
  • Analyze job requirements, social environment, and soft skill expectations Summarize findings in an understandable and usable report
  • Provide consultation on job accommodations and assistive technology
  • Identify and explain appropriate possible accommodations, including assistive technology
  • Maintain ongoing involvement with employers, follow up on placements
  • Explain the system for maintaining contact with employers and following up on VR placements Document ongoing contact using the agency’s system.
  • Facilitate retention solutions when necessary
  • Communicate appropriately with employers regarding retention issues Identify possible approaches to resolving problems, either provided directly by VR personnel or contractors, or through referral to other resources such as JAN
  • Provide information on state and federal regulations that such as Rehab Act Section 503 and the federal and state tax incentive programs available for businesses
  • Explain relevant state and federal regulations, tax incentives, and other financial incentives such as OJT.

Annotated List of Resources for Competency Identification and Development

What do Employment Specialists Really Do? A Study on Job Development Practices [PDF]
Migliore, Hall, Butterworth, & Winsor; Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities 2010, Vol. 35, No. 1-2, 15-23
Self-reported data from 163 employment specialists serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities focused on four functions: getting to know job seekers, finding job openings, engaging employers to hire, and facilitating transition to a job. The table on page 20 lists 33 separate activities associated with the functions and could serve as a good crosscheck in building a job description or skill training curriculum.
Beyond Traditional Job Development: The Art of Creating Opportunity
Bissonnette, Denise 1994; Milt Wright and Associates
Probably the best book out there on job development: challenging, full of applications, and easy to use. Topics include characteristics of the entrepreneurial job developer, new paradigms for job development, job creation through employment proposals, capitalizing on business and social trends, developing partnerships with employers, finding and initiating contact with employers, understanding employer needs, resolving concerns, and providing quality service.
Denise Bissonnette YouTube Videos
Short, informative, inspirational videos addressing issues and strategies on job development. Useful for staff training at all levels.
Customized Employment Competency Model [PDF]
Office of Disability Employment Policy
Customized employment is a process-driven concept with four essential components: discovery, job search planning, job development/negotiation, and post-placement support. This document provides a complete CE model as well as a list of knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to provide effective customized employment services.
2013 ACRE Competencies: Employment Services [PDF]
Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE)
A list of 38 competency areas based on those developed by APSE (Association of People Supporting Employment First) and expanded beyond supported employers. Competencies address multiple approaches to employment for people with disabilities, including competitive employment, Customized Employment, supported employment, and transitional employment.
APSE CESP National Certification Program 
The Association for People Supporting Employment First
APSE (The Association for People Supporting Employment First) has a national certification program (CESP)  for employment support professionals. The certification is earned through successfully passing the CESP national exam. This exam is offered nationally at various times during the year.