Employment First - Let's Help People with Disabilities Get Jobs!

Just got back from Bend, Oregon, where I met with advocates fro Oregon's Employment First initiative. This effort, launched 4 years ago, has been focused on the critical nature of work in our lives, and how advocate can work together to help the folks they serve obtain gainful work in their communities. My role at this gathering was to frame and expand how the concept of social capital can be used to assist the Employment First advocates in their work. 

Now, it is well documented that social capital is at the core of vocational success, both in obtaining, as well as keeping jobs. Studies are clear that the more people in your network, the more possibilities you may have of learning about job openings. Further, the more social and emotional experiences you have in relationships, the greater the likelihood that you will do well in your job once it is obtained. The majority of people get, and keep jobs based on their social capital skills. 

My key points at this gathering were that social capital should be considered from 2 major paths. One is to capitalize on the social capital available to the client you are working with, their family, your own connections, and the social capital enjoyed by people at your agency, both co- workers, and board members. All of these people know people who might open doors. 

The other path is to consider how you can help people you support build more of their own social capital. In this path you want to consider the 4 key steps outlined in our book, "Social Capital: The Key to Macro Change" (2014, www.lapublishing.com). 

if you are in the job placement field, consider how social capital principles can help you in your work. If you are not in the field, encourage employers you know to consider hiring folks with disabilities in their company. They will not go wrong!