Barriers to Employment… Truth?

Dwayne Ross provides On site Human Service Staff Development Training, Youth Development, Online Travel Marketing and MLM information reviews, Blog Training & Suggestions.

Multiple Barriers to Employment?

What exactly is a barrier anyway? Is it truth or perceived. Let’s explore this question…
I was very excited this week as I was able to revisit this topic with about 20 trainees. The biggest barrier that came out of the class however was actually related to management and not the actual people they supported. management who are stuck in doing things the old fashion way. This was an actually good part of the conversation because many job coaches and employment specialist are going out and telling what they will do to support the person without actually finding out what the employer wants to do… or they don’t even take time to get to know the culture of the environment they are attempting to gain the placement. Another issue is the internal thoughts that drive their work… Do they even believe the person they support can actually find, secure and maintain employment? This is a very big problem. During our short time together I wanted to remind the attendees that they must begin with two foundational truths:

“Most Decisions are based Not upon what is true… but upon what is perceived to be True… and If you don’t believe…borrow someone’s belief.”

Employers base their assumptions of how a person will work or not work on what is thought to be true. A person comes in with a Major degree… he or she has maintained a particular background and the thought is… they will make a great XY or Z. Is this true?

An Individual whom they support needs a job… he or she likes likes people… the case manager or job coach often times will jump to the job and decide, Billy or Sally wants to work in retail! but is this true? I believe you need to explore a little deeper. I took the group on an imaginary walk through time using the cast of Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Lion and Toto too. (Most of us age 40+ are familiar with the story and new grads have had this story in at least once in psych class) I began by asking, What were the barriers each of these characters had to face? What were they looking for? What did they need to be successful and what was success for each of them? Did the scarecrow really need a brain? and what about those ruby slippers? Didn’t she have them the entire trip to see Mr. Oz?Was the Tin Man disabled without his oil can? What were their diff-abilities?

The answers were diverse… everyone could state issues that every character had including Toto but this class was small so we didn’t engage Toto’s character (but just in case you wondered… one of his barriers was transportation… he required total assistance in some areas) By the end of the exercise, I asked the question …”What was the most significant barrier? and did it stop any of them from reaching their goal? So what is stopping you? What ‘s stopping the person who is homeless? the drug addict? the person diagnosed with intellectual disability… or autism? Truth or Perception?

It’s time to Shift Our Focus and Focus on Possibility not Limitations.

I explained that there are systems that keep people stuck… give people access or place people in perpetual circles without hope for a better life. Systems work when people don’t but I also reminded everyone that they can create a better system. They have the ability by focusing on one person at a time…  to impact one person by digging deeper and creating a new paradigm of expectation. If a person is missing an eye… totally blind or can’t even walk… there’s always endless possibilities. Our job should be constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of life of those we support.
Oz Public Domain Picture 1

(Picture sited from: )

As practitioners, we can help people push through the barriers into possibility. Isn’t that what we all are suppose to do?   Let me know what you think. Be blessed.  

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3 thoughts on “Barriers to Employment… Truth?

  1. Mr. Ross
    I was in your class last Thursday it was eye opener since I’m new in the field. I would like to know if it would be practical to contact employers to find out if they take ex offenders.

    1. Hi Ms. Young,
      The short answer is Yes!. There is however in my experience a more successful way to engage the employer regarding this. One approach to locating jobs for the employers is to invite the employers to your orientation or job club. Building a solid relationship with the employers allows them to see what you do to prepare a person for work. In my IMPRESS program which is the Inmate, Pre-Release Employability Success System,(you can get it on Amazon or click on the link in the right margin) I teach a system approach.
      As you may have heard me say, “Systems work when people don’t…” By having a planned approach the results are predictable and usually you will be able to duplicate with others. When you approach an employer be sure to investigate the current employees… Ask them how ëx-offender” friendly are they. I also teach to do your best to change the perception of ex-offenders, beginning with the name. I use “Returning Citizen” It implies that the person is a citizen, wants to participate, pay taxes, is civil etc. I would make sure I have all of the state regulatory information available to show how the business could take advantage of any state tax and business incentives. The Feds and State often have special incentives for employers to hire those who exit incarceration. They are usually not as familiar with how to access the incentives and this is your job or the role of the Job Developer, to make it easy for the business to access.

      Finally, there is the question of support after hire. It is imperative that you share with the employer what scope of services you will provide as a trade off. Is the person bonded? Does he or she have reliable transportation? Do they want to Work or just fulfil the probation or parole requirement? and where will you be if something begins to go south? By answering these questions with the employer, and selling the skills, abilities and Character of the person, you are bound to have success. Just to be very clear, some business just won’t hire people with felonies but others are operated by them. (smile) Hope this helps. If you have any other questions or need more on this topic please feel free to give me a call. I’d be happy to come and present the IMPRESS program to you and your organization as well. DR

    2. I was unaware that you made a comment.. some how I missed it. The short answer is Yes… You can contact the employer regarding the person you support who has a felony or some other form of offense. The problem you may have s the fact that you will need to over come the images the person has regarding those who have felonies. Most companies will only hire you if they know you have some type of insurance that the person will not commit a crime with them.

      Now the answer I would explain a little more is this… Not for all employers. If I were working with the person, I would like to find a small mom and pop company where the CEO or Owner can talk to you directly. I would stay away form Box stores and places that do major background checks etc. If the person has a skill such as carpet cleaning or something in that vain, I would contact a small business and sell his or her skills directly to the owner. Most owners have a cousin, brother or other family member or friend who has had a bad day and they are usually more aware and will give the person a chance. Finally, if I was running into a lot of closed doors… I would look at how can I turn this person’s skills into a marketable business. I hope this help and if you need more contact me through the e-mail you have on the handouts given during the live presentation. Thank you for your comment and have a blessed week!

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