Topic 3: Addressing Increased Unemployment

Developing Jobs for All Times


I find these discussions on job developing interesting. My background is in executive sales and marketing. I have worked with businesses for over 30 years, finding out employer needs and then finding solutions for those needs.

9 years ago, I changed gears and went to work for Living Opportunities, a non profit which serves individuals with developmental disabilities. A major part of my job was to find employment for our Job Seekers.

Immediately, I noticed a huge gap on both understanding and experience of individuals with disabilities on the employer side, and ALSO a huge gap on understanding the business side by people in the non profit world. My first goal was to bridge that gap,and it meant educating BOTH sides. This should be looked at as a partnership as we are working together to solve a need for both entities which, if done properly results in not only employment, but inclusion, understanding, engagement, and a win-win for all involved.

Obviously this is not a short subject. I have found though, that if there is initial communication with the business on what our organization does, and how we approach and support employment, it allows q/a for both of us to explore what the possibilities for employment might look like. - In advance or having a person apply for a job.

We also have a pool of candidates that we have taken time to work with to explore their strengths, abilities and job choice preferences. Understanding what works, and what doesn't work for each, helps to make a good match for the employment placement.

For me, this hasn't changed due to the pandemic. I did have to recreate what my contact with the businesses would look like. When things really got tough for businesses, about 80% of our jobs went away. The positive ( if there is such a thing ) was that not only our folks were laid off - but other employees were let go as well. The positive? At one time people with disabilities were the last hired and the first fired. That didn't happen this time.

I maintained regular contact with the businesses, while the rest of my team worked to maintain contact with the employees so we could keep everyone updated, informed and hopeful on both sides. Due to the high risk of the population we serve, the highest of safety protocols recommended by state and federal mandates were implemented and these were individualized as was necessary for each person or business. Every job seeker has been involved in what the virus might mean to them, and how to keep themselves and others safe. This meant a lot in calming fear - for the employee and what the work place might look like - and for the business in feeling comfortable in what training and safety habits will be coming back into their workplace.

The result? About 80% of those same employers have brought our folks back to work so far!

We are all still navigating what the near future will bring. But what has worked for us, has been to maintain a relationship with all involved, and work to be responsive and respectful to the needs of each role in this partnership.

Baylee LaVoie


4 votes
Idea No. 79