Rehabilitation Services Administration Report on Business Needs
The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) recently published a report entitled “Report on Business Needs and Recommendations to Improve the Employment Rate of Americans with Disabilities.” Led by then Commissioner Janet LaBreck, this initiative was prompted by high unemployment rate for people with disabilities and assisting businesses with finding candidates with the necessary skills to meet their employment needs. The focus of this effort was on engaging business representatives from different industries to participate in a series of round table discussions.
The purpose of these discussions was to engage businesses about their employment needs including challenges, skill needs and job requirements, recruitment strategies, and methods to employ more candidates with disabilities. The sectors of business that were selected include:
- Federal contractors;
- Healthcare; and
- Information Technology
Many themes emerged as part of the discussions. In fact, the report breaks these down by industry. For the purposes of this summary, only the broader themes are mentioned. These include:
- A need for VR agencies to increase their understanding of industry, as well as specific businesses within those industries;
- Businesses need for VR to understand human capital needs; and
- Establishing employer partnerships with State VR agencies.
With regard to the need for VR agencies to increase their understanding of industry, some of the key points included an understanding of the hard and soft skills needed by industry, and in depth and current knowledge of each industry. Each of these are beneficial to building trust and long-term relationships between VR and industry.
In terms of developing an understanding of human capital needs, business representatives indicated that they rely on recruitment resources such as staffing firms and recruiters. Many expressed a preference for working with “singular, trusted, specialty recruiters.” They also expressed an unfamiliarity with VR as a potential resource to assist with recruitment and that VR has access to a talent pool to meet their employment needs.
Finally, with regard to establishing partnerships, business representatives were receptive to the idea of partnering with VR agencies. Small businesses were less aware of VR agencies. Larger firms questioned whether VR could deliver on providing qualified candidates in a timely manner. Businesses felt that is was important for VR to reach out to them build trust and to develop an understanding of their companies. They would also appreciate receiving technical assistance with the hiring, retention, and advancement of individuals with disabilities.
VR professionals have participated in many of these discussions through the years, particularly since business has become a recognized second customer. What’s particularly encouraging about this effort is that RSA chose to become involved as a federal partner in this initiative. Translating that down to the state level and to the actual professionals that do the work of VR will be important. It should also be mentioned that while this blog provides a summary, there are many other specific recommendations and details provided in the report. It is recommended that you review the full report. To access the report, visit the link.
About the Author
Ralph has over 30 years of experience in managing vocational rehabilitation programs. He also served the national VR program, via the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation as co-chairman of the Employment Committee and the Region 6 Representative.
Ralph had a hugely impactful career with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in New Mexico. He was a member of the original Aware Implementation team and has extensive experience as a field service manager. Ralph also served as the Director of New Mexico’s agency.
Currently, Ralph works at Alliance as a Strategic Account Manager and serves as an essential part in serving their VR customers.