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US/UK Routes to Work for People with Disabilities

Public Employment Service (PES) systems in the United States and the United Kingdom are under pressure to provide more efficient consumer-directed services with limited resources. Government managers often do not have the time and resources to review and distill large amounts of research to determine effectiveness, alternative approaches and possible solutions.

This research examined the experience of both countries in developing effective strategies for providing integrated service delivery. Funded by the IBM Center for the Business of Government researchers focused on what works and what doesn't work, providing a roadmap to improving services for individuals with disabilities. While more research is needed, the report identifies 12 strategies to strengthen integrated service delivery systems, and to assist individuals with disabilities in gaining and maintaining productive employment. The strategies are the result of a scoping review that the authors conducted of existing empirical research on PES delivery for people with disabilities in the US and the UK. Empirical research included both published and unpublished materials that were produced between January 2000 and June 2008.

Strategies to deliver existing services more effectively to people with disabilities:

  1. Proactively reach out and market to people with disabilities to increase access to employment programs and services.
  2. Create universally accessible and customer-friendly environments for direct employment service delivery.
  3. Provide specialist support to people with disabilities as needed.
  4. Train staff on disability and related issues to build organizational capacity to more effectively serve people with disabilities.
  5. Calculate whether people with disabilities would be better off working and give advice on work incentives to help them overcome financial worries about returning to work.
  6. Provide supports to help people with disabilities do their jobs and stay in work.
  7. Measure the effectiveness of job finding for people with disabilities to continuously improve employment service delivery.

Strategies to create partnerships to better serve people with disabilities:

  1. Engage disability organizations in direct employment service delivery.
  2. Partner with other service providers and share resources to provide more comprehensive employment service delivery but also prevent duplication.
  3. Understand employers' needs as an essential part of the process of finding jobs for people with disabilities.

Strategies to provide new services to people with disabilities:

  1. Intervene early to help prevent people going from sickness absence onto long-term disability benefits from becoming disconnected from the labor market.
  2. Help people to understand and manage their disability or health condition so that they are in a better position to obtain and keep employment.

Implementing these strategies can benefit individuals with disabilities, who have the opportunity to realize their potential more fully; the taxpayer, who is paying less for disability assistance; and society at large, which gains the productive skill of talented individuals.

The report and a Power Point brief can be downloaded from The IBM Center for the Business of Government website: http://www.businessofgovernment.org/publications/grant_reports/details/index.asp?gid=338

Project Director: Heike Boeltzig-Brown

Project publications

ICI: promoting inclusion for people with disabilities