Don't underestimate what it takes to be a good employment specialist! Employment specialists require an extensive skill set in order to be successful at placing and supporting individuals with disabilities. They also must be proficient at many technical and complex tasks. They need to meet constant challenges and deal with multiple stakeholders and priorities every day.
How do you prepare for this?
Organizations must promote opportunities for staff to develop new skills and feel confident in using those skills with job seekers and employers. High-quality training is directly linked to best practices in the field. In addition, opportunities for competency-based training and for certification communicate a message of respect and professionalism, and can provide the foundation for career advancement.
Core competencies have been established by national organizations dedicated to employment for people with disabilities, such as the Association for Community Rehabilitation Providers (ACRE) and the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE). These competencies serve as a comprehensive foundation for employment specialist training programs.
But let's talk about real-world results. Does competency-based training lead to improved employment outcomes?
The University of Minnesota and the ICI conducted research on whether a competency-based curriculum would increase staff's effectiveness in assisting job seekers with intellectual or developmental disabilities in finding individual paid employment. Results showed that staff who participated in the training outperformed those who did not get the training by 3.4 placements per employment specialist in the year following the training.
To learn more about the curriculum study, read Improving Job Development Through Training and Mentorship.
For more information about the key elements of an effective training approach, read Effective Training For Employment Consultants: Job Development and Support Strategies.