VIAS believes that people with learning difficulties should have the same employment opportunities as everyone else.
Most people find that they will have more money each week if they take a job. It is important though to get the right advice on how having a job will affect the welfare benefits that you get.
Your Employment Specialist or Job Coach will usually start by making sure that you are getting all the benefits that you are entitled to. They can then help you to get a 'better off in work' calculation done. This can be done by a welfare rights officer or at your local job centre.
This will help you get a clear picture of how your benefits will change and you will be able to see in pounds and pence how much money you will have coming in each week when you take up work. They will also help you to tell the right people about when you start work and to fill in any forms.
From time to time you will receive letters from the Job Centre about your benefits. It is important that, if you don't understand anything in the letters or forms, you get help from your Employment Specialist, Job Coach or someone else that you trust.
A Career for Life
Some people choose to stay in the same job for a long time. Others like to change jobs every few years. Whatever you decide, it is important that you get the chance to progress. Your Employment Specialist or Job Coach should help you with this.
There are three main ways that you can do this by
- Using the systems that are available to everyone in the company you work for
- Asking to take on extra tasks and duties at work that will help you to develop
- Doing things out with your workplace that will help your development
Using the systems that are available to everyone in the company you work for. These will vary but could include
- Individual supervision meetings
- Superviser support
- Team meetings
- Performance reviews
- Staff training programmes
Asking to take on extra tasks and duties at work that will help you to develop. Again, this will vary but could include
- Working for a short time in departments you’ve not been in before
- Volunteering for a committee or task force
- Working out a better way of doing something and telling others
- Volunteering to assist a colleague in doing a piece of work that interests you but is not part of your job
- Taking on a task you dislike doing
- Working with a mentor
- Taking on a project with a tight deadline
Doing things out with your workplace that will help your development. Things you can think about doing are:
- Find out as much as possible about the job that you would like to do
- Think of ways that you can improve anything that you feel particularly weak in
- Join groups or committees
- Get training/qualifications
- Find out if there is free training in your area that will help you
- Take on a mentoring role
- Ask someone to mentor you
- Ask to shadow people who do what you want to do
Your Employment Specialist or Job Coach should help you pull all this together and help you to achieve your long-term career goals
Job Finding Support
When your employment plan is written, your Employment Specialist or Job Coach will organise an employment planning meeting. You decide who goes to this as it is your meeting.
Everyone who attends will be asked to describe their idea of your "ideal" employment situation.
This should include
- What the main job activities would ideally be
- When the job will take place in terms of ideal days, hours and time of work (mornings, afternoons, evenings, weekends, full-time/ part-time etc.)
- Where the job will be in terms of type of place and location
- Who you would like to work with. This can include information on ideal co-workers/ customers in terms of age, hobbies and interest
From this, you can then start to draw up a list of employers who you think are most likely to be able to offer opportunties which most closely match your needs.
You will also agree on who will do what. This is your job search so it is important that you are as involved as you feel comfortable with. Your Employment Specialist or Job Coach will be there to help you every step of the way.
Between you, you will make contact with all of the employers on your list. The aim is to find an employer who can offer you a job which is as close to your "ideal" as possible.
Help To Talk To Employers
However a potential job is found, it is likely that you and your Employment Specialist or Job Coach will meet with the employer. This can be quite scary, especially if it is your first interview. The Employment Specialist or Job Coach is there to make this as easy as possible for you. Remember too that employers are people just like you!
The interview will give you an idea of what they may be able to offer you.
The kind of things that you may talk about will include:
- Skills/experience they require
- Hours of work
- Terms and Conditions of employment
- Support or help that you will need
- Support available from the Employment Specialist or Job Coach
- Support available from the employer/co workers
Hopefully, you will get a job offer at the end of this. If not, don't worry! Every interview is good experience and your next one will feel a lot easier. Very few people get a job offer at their first interview so use what you have learned from the experience and your next interview might be the one when you walk away with a job offer!
The starting point for employment planning (vocational profiling) is that everyone is ‘job ready’ and that by focussing on what you would like to do, how much help you may need and what training may be necessary when you have secured a job, we are much more likely to help you reach your goal. Employment planning is not an assessment. It is a person centred process that is about discovery, vision, co-operation.
You should be at the centre of the process which should also involve people who are important to you. This could be family, friends, contacts and others to help gather all the useful information required in order to make a successful job match.
To put together an employment plan, your Employment Specialist or Job Coach will
Meet with you at your home along with someone you know well and are comfortable with. They will ask permission to carry out the following activities.
Before or after the meeting, they will drive or walk through the surrounding neighbourhood. They will make notes of any potential job opportunities and the general infrastructure of the area in terms of public services and transport available.
Each Employment Specialist or Job Coach may have a different approach, these are examples of what to expect:
- Write a list of businesses which are reasonably close to your home
- Meet with any care staff who have supported you
- Your close friends and advocates will be contacted to build a picture of your social life, preferences and contacts
- They will observe you doing the things which you would normally do each day
- Accompanying you on a planned activity will help them to see how you adapt to new situations
- Reviewing any files/ paperwork relating to you will also help them
- When they have done all of this, they will write the employment plan using all of the information they have gathered
- With permission, they will give the plan to everyone involved in the your life. They may think of more ideas and information which can be added to the plan
You will then be ready to start to think about finding a job