Tag Archives: job development

Our State of the Science seminar on rural VR well attended and informative

Over 120 individuals registered for our 2017 State of the Science event, “Effective Rural Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Job Development.” The live, participatory webinar was held June 22, 2017 and was attended by State Vocational Rehabilitation staff and administrators, researchers and job development providers from around the country. For those who missed or were unable to register for the live session, an archived recording of the webinar is now available.

The agenda featured a presentation on RTC:Rural employment research by Dr. Catherine Ipsen, RTC:Rural Director of Rural Employment Research followed by a panel discussion. Panelists included: Betsy Hopkins, Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation at the Maine Department of Labor; Mimi Schafer, Rehabilitation Area Manager for Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services; Jessica Adams, Program Manager for Community Connections, Inc.; Joe Xavier, Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation; and Dr. Susan Foley, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Panelist bios can be viewed here: State of the Science webinar features a panel of experts from the VR field.

Dr. Catherine Ipsen headshot

Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Rural Institute Associate Director and RTC:Rural Employment Project Director

To begin the webinar, Dr. Ipsen shared RTC:Rural demographic research by Research Associates Lillie Greiman and Andrew Myers regarding rural disparities. Using American Community Survey data, Greiman and Myers examined differences in rates of poverty, employment, and those out of the labor force for people with and without disabilities in rural and urban areas.

Dr. Ipsen then presented work on two RTC:Rural employment research projects: Premature Exit from VR Services and Rural Contracted Services. “Access to timely job development services is vital to keeping people engaged in the VR program,” said Dr. Ipsen. “Many providers, however, are reluctant to serve rural areas due to barriers imposed by distance, economic opportunity, and VR payment and referral models.” Continue reading

Telecom Toolbox: A Resource for Job Seekers and Service Providers

Telecom ToolboxTelecom Toolbox logo is an online resource for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) professionals and clients to support their use of online tools to reach employment goals.

RTC:Rural’s ongoing research on how to improve VR services revealed three areas in which VR agencies could make changes to positively impact client employment outcomes: use of telecommunication strategies, online career development, and understanding of ethical issues in social media and telecommunications use.

Communication

Using telecommunication strategies, such as email, text messaging, video chat, or instant messaging, can help overcome many of the barriers that people with disabilities contend with when it comes to finding employment. These forms of communication can be especially important in rural areas, where opportunities and resources tend to be fewer and far-between. For VR counselors, telecommunication can offer ways to provide services in a timely and cost-efficient manner, and increased communication between counselors and clients has positive impact on employment outcomes.

Online Career Development

In this increasingly digital world, tapping into the plethora of online resources can be a game-changer when it comes to finding employment. However, many VR agencies are not fully utilizing current online job-seeking methods. This happens for a variety of reasons, including a lack of counselor training and a lack of ethical guidance in social media use specific to the VR process.

Ethics

Though telecommunication and social media strategies provide opportunities for VR agencies and clients, they present some unique ethical concerns due to their continually evolving nature. These concerns can leave VR counselors and agencies intimidated or unsure about how to integrate social media into their practice. Adding to this confusion is limited guidance on telecommunication and social media use by professional organizations.

Based on these identified needs for training and guidance, RTC:Rural developed Telecom Toolbox as a resource for both VR counselors and individuals working on their own to find employment. The website is a resource to understand the pros and cons of different social media platforms and how they support job search efforts. It also provides guidance on how to create and manage a professional online profile. Continue reading