Employment Consultant Training
Development of an Employment Consultation Staff Training Model for Workplace Inclusion
Providing low-cost training to direct service employment staff related to facilitating social inclusion and natural supports on the job has been an ongoing challenge in vocational rehabilitation. Without access to high quality training, job support staff all too often fall back on the familiar and traditional “job coach” model, even though research has shown that this model results in unnecessary dependency and poor social inclusion. Even worse, employment service programs all too often remain stuck with group employment models. This project is developing and validating an interactive video-based online staff training mini-course called Employment Consulting and Workplace Supports that teaches the skills and strategies required to support high quality individualized employment for people with disabilities.
The mini-course consists of four weekly instructional modules, and each module takes about five to six hours to complete. Each module includes brief narrative explanations, filmed or animated video vignettes, and exercises or group discussions where groups of eight to ten students engage in discussions and solve sample problem situations with guided facilitation from the instructors. Course developers Dr. David Hagner and Dr. Bryan Dague serve as the course instructors, and maintain weekly telephone “office hours” to assist students through the modules. The mini-course is scheduled once each fall, spring, and summer semester.
The strategies taught through the course are based on analysis of the culture of a workplace. Students learn to analyze workplace cultures in terms of 31 elements, to attend to significant details of the culture, and to design intervention strategies that increase inclusion in the culture. The four weekly topics are as follows:
- Week 1: Introduction to Workplace Support
- Week 2: Orientation and Training, Ongoing Support and Supervision
- Week 3: Facilitating Inclusion into Workplace Cultures
- Week 4: Consultation Skills and Professionalism
Successful completion of training is measured using an Employment Consulting Quiz. Students answering at least 85% of the questions correctly and who have also participated in three or more discussions receive a Certificate of Completion and are eligible to participate in the follow-up phase of the project.
The follow-up phase is designed to provide information on the usefulness and effectiveness of the training, and to guide revisions to the mini-course. Each student implements the strategies with a consumer he or she works with and completes project data forms to measure progress. Within New England, site visits are used to assess fidelity to the model. Students completing this follow-up phase receive a stipend of $100 from the project.
The final revised training module will be made available to community rehabilitation programs nationwide. The project will result in the availability of low-cost training for staff in evidence-based strategies to improve the employment outcomes for employees with significant disabilities and the capacity of employers to support a diverse workforce.
The Employment Consultant Training project is funded by a three-year, $600,000 grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, grant number H133G100176.