Customized Employment for Homeless Veterans
The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) within the U.S. Department of Labor is committed to improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. To achieve this goal, ODEP established a Customized Employment initiative to build the capacity of workforce systems to serve all customers, including individuals with disabilities. The strategies developed through this initiative can assist all workforce customers who have complex needs and may require more individual assistance to achieve their employment goals. The Customized Employment initiative also focuses on using universal strategies that can be used to serve any customers with barriers to employment, not just individuals with disabilities. (Authors)
Customized Employment: Applying Practical Solutions for Employment Success is the second in a series of Customized Employment portfolios. The first portfolio, Customized Employment: Practical Solutions for Employment Success, provides a general overview of the following topics:
This second piece expands on those topics and provides ideas on how to use these strategies with job seekers for their own Customized Employment success.(authors).
- Customized Employment: A New Competitive Edge
- Principles and Indicators
- Job Seeker Exploration
- Creating a Blueprint for Job Development
- Negotiating with Employers
It is no surprise that employment is often cited as a key ingredient to ending homelessness. However, barriers to employment for people who are homeless can be compounded by the multiple types of trauma experienced by veterans during military service. The most prominent issues include Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and military sexual trauma (MST). Such histories and disabilities make it hard for homeless veterans to obtain and maintain gainful, meaningful employment. Challenges include criminal records, substance use, mental illness, physical disabilities, homelessness, lack of skills or skills that are not transferable from a military to a civilian setting.
At its recent national conference, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) hosted a session on Customized Employment (CE). CE was originally developed for use with people who are disabled, yet it provides practical application for use with homeless veterans as well as with youth. CE incorporates guiding principles that value the interests and abilities of individuals. CE job developers work to find an employer that will be a good match for the contributions of a potential employer. CE is not seeking a charitable employer; rather, both parties will benefit from the individualized match.
CE is not simply a job referral service, and generally does not utilize existing traditional job openings. Instead, trained job developers learn how to discover a person’s true interests, needs and skills; to develop a concrete plan that outlines steps to find employment opportunities; to identify marketable skills that contribute to a portfolio about potential employees; and to represent and negotiate with employers on their behalf.
CE is showing remarkable success in job retention rates and is a model developed by and for dedicated, creative individuals who believe in employment for all.
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